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[on-toj-uh-nee] /ɒnˈtɒdʒ ə ni/
noun, Biology
the development or developmental history of an individual organism.
Also, ontogenesis
[on-tuh-jen-uh-sis] /ˌɒn təˈdʒɛn ə sɪs/ (Show IPA)
Compare phylogeny.
Origin of ontogeny
1870-75; onto- + -geny
Related forms
[on-tuh-juh-net-ik] /ˌɒn tə dʒəˈnɛt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
ontogenetical, ontogenic, adjective
ontogenetically, ontogenically, adverb
ontogenist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ontogenesis
Historical Examples
  • This exceedingly important larval form, the "gastrula," makes its appearance in the ontogenesis of all tribes of animals.

    Was Man Created? Henry A. Mott
  • It studies man from two different points of view: his development (ontogenesis), and his variations.

    Pedagogical Anthropology Maria Montessori
  • The ontogenesis of any given living organism is a short, condensed recapitulation of its ancestral history or of its phylogenesis.

    The Last Link Ernst Haeckel
  • It is naturally no easy matter to trace the ontogenesis of the herd instinct.

  • But ontogenesis would have furnished us with facts no less cogent.

    Creative Evolution Henri Bergson
  • It summarises the history of species; ontogenesis, we are told, reproduces phylogenesis.

British Dictionary definitions for ontogenesis


the entire sequence of events involved in the development of an individual organism Compare phylogeny
Derived Forms
ontogenic (ˌɒntəˈdʒɛnɪk), ontogenetic (ˌɒntədʒɪˈnɛtɪk) adjective
ontogenically, ontogenetically, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ontogenesis



"development of an individual," 1872, from onto- + -geny. Related: Ontogenic; ontogenesis.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ontogenesis in Medicine

ontogenesis on·to·gen·e·sis (ŏn'tō-jěn'ĭ-sĭs)
See ontogeny.

ontogeny on·tog·e·ny (ŏn-tŏj'ə-nē)
The origin and development of an individual organism from embryo to adult. Also called ontogenesis.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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ontogenesis in Science
The origin and development of an individual organism from embryo to adult.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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