Definition of cladistics in English:


plural noun

  • [treated as singular] A method of classification of animals and plants that aims to identify and take account of only those shared characteristics which can be deduced to have originated in the common ancestor of a group of species during evolution, not those arising by convergence.

    • ‘Today, cladistics is the method of choice for classifying life because it recognizes and employs evolutionary theory.’
    • ‘The second half of the 20th century has seen the advent of two revolutions in systematics: cladistics and molecular phylogenetics.’
    • ‘He was an early champion of cladistics in paleontology, which at the time was a new approach to studying questions in that subject.’
    • ‘The basic idea behind cladistics is that members of a group share a common evolutionary history, and are ‘closely related’, more so to members of the same group than to other organisms.’
    • ‘Of course, it is possible to do cladistics without reference to evolution, but nothing in biology makes much sense-including cladistics-except in the light of evolution.’


1960s: from clade + -ist + -ics.