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Late 14th century, from Latin mutationem, both directly and via Old French mutacion, form of Latin mūtō (I move, I change, I vary).[1]



mutation (countable and uncountable, plural mutations)

  1. Any alteration or change.
  2. (genetics) Any heritable change of the base-pair sequence of genetic material.
    • 2013 May-June, David Van Tassel, Lee DeHaan, “Wild Plants to the Rescue”, in American Scientist[1], volume 101, number 3:
      Plant breeding is always a numbers game. [] The wild species we use are rich in genetic variation, […]. In addition, we are looking for rare alleles, so the more plants we try, the better. These rarities may be new mutations, or they can be existing ones that are neutral—or are even selected against—in a wild population. A good example is mutations that disrupt seed dispersal, leaving the seeds on the heads long after they are ripe.
  3. A mutant.
  4. (linguistics) An alteration a particular sound of a word, especially the initial consonant, which is triggered by the word's morphological or syntactic context and not by its phonological context.
  5. (rare, collective noun) A group of thrushes.
    • 1984, Virginia Wildlife, volume 45, Virginia Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries:
      Birdwatchers would enjoy a host of sparrows, a herd of swans, a descent of woodpeckers, a herd of wrens, and mutation of thrushes.
    • 2010, Doug Bennet, Tim Tiner, The Complete Up North: A Guide to Ontario's Wilderness from Black Flies to the Northern Lights, page 57:
      Names for a group: A flute or mutation of thrushes.
    • 2013, Jason Sacher, A Compendium of Collective Nouns: From an Armory of Aardvarks to a Zeal of Zebras, page 196:
      A Mutation of Thrushes
      The authors of the books of venery were not predicting Darwin with this term, but taking a cue from a common fable of the time.

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  1. ^ mutation” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.



Middle FrenchEdit


From Old French mutacion, borrowed from Latin mutatio, mutationem.


mutation f (plural mutations)

  1. change, alteration, mutation

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