Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to epigenesis: Epigenetics


1. Biology The theory that an individual is developed by successive differentiation of an unstructured egg rather than by a simple enlarging of a preformed entity.
2. Geology Change in the mineral content of a rock because of outside influences.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. (Biology) the widely accepted theory that an individual animal or plant develops by the gradual differentiation and elaboration of a fertilized egg cell. Compare preformation2
2. (Geological Science) the formation or alteration of rocks after the surrounding rock has been formed
3. (Geological Science) alteration of the mineral composition of a rock by external agents: a type of metamorphism
ˌepiˈgenesist, epigenist n
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˌɛp ɪˈdʒɛn ə sɪs)

a. the stepwise process by which genetic information, as modified by environmental influences, is translated into the substance and behavior of an organism.
b. the theory that an embryo develops from the successive differentiation of an originally undifferentiated structure (opposed to preformation).
2. ore deposition subsequent to the original formation of the enclosing country rock.
ep`i•gen′e•sist, e•pig•e•nist (ɪˈpɪdʒ ə nɪst) n.
ep`i•ge•net′ic (-dʒəˈnɛt ɪk) adj.
ep`i•ge•net′i•cal•ly, adv.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. the appearance of a secondary symptom in a disease or illness.
2. the secondary symptom itself. See also biology; geology. — epigenetic, adj.
See also: Disease and Illness
the biological theory that germ cells are structureless and the embryo develops through the action of environment on the protoplasm. Cf. preformation. See also birth; disease and illness; geology. — epigenetic, adj.
See also: Biology
the formation of a cell as a new product and not as the result of development from some existing cell. — epigenetic, adj.
See also: Cells
the process of metamorphism. See also biology; disease and illness. — epigenetic, adj.
See also: Geology
the theory that embryonic development is totally controlled by the cell’s environment. Cf. syngenesis.epigenesist, n. — epigenetic, adj.
See also: Birth
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.epigenesis - a geological change in the mineral content of rock after the rock has formed
metamorphism - change in the structure of rock by natural agencies such as pressure or heat or introduction of new chemical substances
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Microscopios y embriologia: Preformacionismo y Epigenesis
The 11th edition of this textbook on human development has been revised to "significantly shorten the text" while providing students with new research in evolutionary theory, brain development, epigenesis, dynamic systems theory, mental health and Alzheimer's disease.
This is a good reminder of how long ago the waxes were produced, when epigenesis had yet to fully overcome the idea of preformation.
The term "epigenesis" captures this idea of development unfolding from the interplay of genes and environment through many interactions over time.
See Helene Furjan and Peter Lloyd Jones, "Epigenesis," in via: Occupation (Philadelphia: School of Design, University of Pennsylvania, 2008), 110-113.
Disclosure of details about one's life is essential in the development of satisfying intimate relationships (Laurenceau, Barrett, & Pietromonaco, 1998; Troy & Lewis-Smith, 2006) and occurs naturally in the epigenesis of relationships (Wynne, 1984).
The paradigm shift from the idea of preformation to that of epigenesis produced a new ambiguity: while all people are now equipped with the triumphal knowledge that they will pass on a biological inheritance, this triumph is undermined by the insight that each of us is the product of a biological inheritance.