life cycle

noun
1.
Biology. the continuous sequence of changes undergone by an organism from one primary form, as a gamete, to the development of the same form again.
2.
a series of stages, as childhood and middle age, that characterize the course of existence of an individual, group, or culture.
3.
any similar series of stages: the life cycle of a manufactured product.

Origin:
1870–75

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
life cycle
 
n
the series of changes occurring in an animal or plant between one development stage and the identical stage in the next generation

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

life cycle n.

  1. The characteristic course of developmental changes through which an organism passes from its inception as a fertilized zygote to its mature state during which another zygote may be produced.

  2. A progression through a series of differing stages of development.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
life cycle  
The series of changes in the growth and development of an organism from its beginning as an independent life form to its mature state in which offspring are produced. In simple organisms, such as bacteria, the life cycle begins when an organism is produced by fission and ends when that organism in turn divides into two new ones. In organisms that reproduce sexually, the life cycle may be thought of as beginning with the fusion of reproductive cells to form a new organism. The cycle ends when that organism produces its own reproductive cells, which then begin the cycle again by undergoing fusion with other reproductive cells. The life cycles of plants, algae, and many protists often involve an alternation between a generation of organisms that reproduces sexually and another that reproduces asexually. See more at alternation of generations.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

life cycle

in biology, the series of changes that the members of a species undergo as they pass from the beginning of a given developmental stage to the inception of that same developmental stage in a subsequent generation

Learn more about life cycle with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
To time an invention properly, you need to consider its entire life cycle.
They actually need for us to eat them to complete their life cycle.
Complicating the mystery is the salmon's complex life cycle.
The weirdest part of all, its strange life cycle is meant to infect rodents.
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