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Borrowed from Latin ēvolvere, present active infinitive of ēvolvō (unroll, unfold), from ē (out of) (short form of ex) + volvō (roll).


evolve (third-person singular simple present evolves, present participle evolving, simple past and past participle evolved)

  1. To move in regular procession through a system.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Sir M. Hale
      The animal soul sooner evolves itself to its full orb and extent than the human soul.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Whewell
      The principles which art involves, science alone evolves.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Shairp
      Not by any power evolved from man's own resources, but by a power which descended from above.
  2. (intransitive) To change; transform.
  3. To come into being; develop.
    • 1939, P. G. Wodehouse, Uncle Fred in the Springtime
      You will remove the pig, place it in the car, and drive it to my house in Wiltshire. That is the plan I have evolved.
  4. (biology) Of a population, to change genetic composition over successive generations through the process of evolution.
    • 1859, Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, p. 502:
      There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
    • 2013 September-October, Katie L. Burke, “In the News”, in American Scientist:
      Oxygen levels on Earth skyrocketed 2.4 billion years ago, when cyanobacteria evolved photosynthesis: the ability to convert water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates and waste oxygen using solar energy.
  5. (chemistry) To give off (gas, such as oxygen or carbon dioxide during a reaction).
    to evolve odours
  6. (transitive) To cause something to change or transform.

Related termsEdit






  1. third-person singular present indicative of evolvere