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Definition of "neoteny" [neoteny]

  • Retention of juvenile characteristics in the adults of a species, as among certain amphibians. (noun)
  • The attainment of sexual maturity by an organism still in its larval stage. (noun)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "neoteny" in a sentence
  • "Humans, especially females, are likewise evolutionarily wired to respond in a nurturing way to faces that have a quality of neoteny, which is to say, the retention of infantile characteristics: large head, wide and prominent eyes, slightly helpless and winsome."
  • "It seems highly plausible that, as Australopithecus evolved through various intermediates to Homo sapiens, shortening the muzzle all along the way, it did so by the obvious route of retaining juvenile characteristics into adulthood the process called neoteny, mentioned in Chapter 2."
  • "What they found was quite consistent with the notion of neoteny, not only for body shape but for dog language."