Definition of hermaphrodite in English:



  • 1A person or animal having both male and female sex organs or other sexual characteristics, either abnormally or (in the case of some organisms) as the natural condition.

    • ‘Single-sex groups of males, but not hermaphrodites, were observed to congregate into clumps of animals attempting to mate with one another.’
    • ‘However, even in hermaphrodites, male and female meiosis may not occur at the same time - and therefore may occur under different conditions.’
    • ‘The Hippocratic paradigm assumed that sex existed along a sort of continuum from the extreme male to the extreme female and that the hermaphrodite therefore was s/he who lay in the middle.’
    • ‘This nematode reproduces primarily by self-fertilization of adult hermaphrodites, although males can develop under special conditions.’
    • ‘Nudibranchs are hermaphrodites - with both male and female sexual equipment - and they meet in groups, attracted by pheromones.’
    • ‘Perhaps most interesting is Dieta Sixt, a self-described hermaphrodite who investigated her female side, then her male side, and has finally settled somewhere in the middle.’
    • ‘Snails are hermaphrodites (male & female) and can have 200 eggs.’
    • ‘In simultaneous hermaphrodites, both male and female roles are present in the same individual.’
    • ‘In Hayes' study, African clawed frog tadpoles exposed to levels of atrazine commonly found in the environment were demasculinized and turned into hermaphrodites - creatures with both male and female genitalia.’
    • ‘The widely used herbicide atrazine can convert male frogs into hermaphrodites.’
    • ‘When males were present in the brood, hermaphrodites were separated from males during the final larval stage to preserve their virginity.’
    • ‘Because earthworms are hermaphrodites, no sexual differences were taken into account during the experiments.’
    • ‘In two lines, XX transgenic mice developed as females, and in three lines XX transgenic mice developed as females, hermaphrodites, or males.’
    • ‘The rates of births for which sex was uncertain, or of births diagnosed as hermaphrodites, were studied for 4-year periods from 1967 to 1998.’
    • ‘The idea of the hermaphrodite who has fully functioning male and female organs and is capable of self-fertilization is a myth, though a very persistent one, which has long exercised a fascination over the human mind.’
    • ‘A third possibility is that the Belle Isle bamboo shark is a hermaphrodite, harboring both male and female sex organs, and capable of fertilizing its own eggs.’
    • ‘The barramundi is also a hermaphrodite, born male but switching to female at sexual maturity, at around five years old, when they begin travelling downstream to spawn.’
    • ‘It also shows favorable features for vulva genetics: self-fertilizing hermaphrodites with facultative males and a fast life cycle.’
    • ‘A small number of eunuchs are hermaphrodites, possessing both male and female characteristics, or transvestites.’
    • ‘There is thus a dynamic interaction between the processes of sex allocation and other sexually selected strategies in animal hermaphrodites.’
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    1. 1.1Botany A plant having stamens and pistils in the same flower.
      • ‘In this population, the male cyathia produced on average 100 pollen grains more per stamen than the hermaphrodites, but this difference was not significant.’
      • ‘In plants we find that under low resourced conditions, poor resourced conditions, the plants flower as males, and then under better conditions they flower as hermaphrodites and express female function.’
      • ‘In all but two plants examined, this flower matured as a hermaphrodite; in the exceptions, the carpel aborted, producing a male flower.’
      • ‘Most flowering plant species are hermaphrodite and possess flowers in which male and female reproductive organs are in close proximity.’
      • ‘Gynodioecy, the coexistence of hermaphrodite and female (male sterile) individuals in natural populations, is relatively frequent in angiosperm species.’
    2. 1.2archaic A person or thing combining opposite qualities or characteristics.


  • Of or denoting a person, animal, or plant having both male and female sex organs or other sexual characteristics.

    ‘hermaphrodite creatures in classical sculpture’
    • ‘This situation never happens for nuclear genes because at least half of the nuclear genes carried by females necessarily derive from hermaphrodite parents.’
    • ‘Now, a new study provides the first experimental evidence that some hermaphrodite animals also benefit from promoting maleness when faced with troublesome conditions.’
    • ‘However, when pollinators were excluded from the flowers at night but not in the day, there was no effect on fruit set in female plants and even a slight increase in hermaphrodite plants.’
    • ‘Most Pampas grass plants are either male or female, though odd plants may be hermaphrodite.’
    • ‘A long tail on the survival curve, representing a small minority of long-lived survivors, was seen in male but not hermaphrodite populations.’
    • ‘This allowed construction of a male / hermaphrodite strain.’
    • ‘Such individuals are able to reproduce, and most adult hermaphrodite bears are actually females that successfully raise cubs.’
    • ‘We observed complete interference for both oogenesis and spermatogenesis in hermaphrodite animals and for the entire lengths of both an autosome and the X chromosome.’
    • ‘SELF-incompatibility is a genetic mechanism used by hermaphrodite plants to prevent self-fertilization and to promote outbreeding.’
    • ‘All individuals were selected from sibships that had both female and hermaphrodite progeny, so all individuals carried a fertility cytoplasm that is susceptible to restoration.’
    • ‘One female and one hermaphrodite plant that did not produce any fruit were excluded from the analyses.’
    • ‘The painting presents a heavily pregnant two-tone, two-headed, hermaphrodite figure in x-ray on a background of what also appears to be a row of x-rayed teeth.’
    • ‘Each plant was marked at the beginning of the flowering and visited every 7-10 days, noting the number of male and hermaphrodite cyathia at each level of the inflorescence.’
    • ‘Earlier this year another team of scientists reported the creation of a hermaphrodite embryo containing male and female cells.’
    • ‘Twenty female and 20 hermaphrodite plants were chosen randomly in each population.’
    • ‘However, seeds from hermaphrodite trees always segregate into hermaphrodites and females at the ratio of 2: 1 and the sex types of the plants can be determined only by inspection of the flowers.’
    • ‘A second approach to looking for imprinting in C. elegans has been to generate diploid animals in which both copies of a given chromosome are derived from the same parent, from either the male parent or hermaphrodite parent.’
    • ‘Animals developed as perfectly normal hermaphrodites if derived from a heterozygous hermaphrodite mother.’
    • ‘Wild beets are gynodioecious: both female and hermaphrodite individuals coexist frequently within natural populations.’
    • ‘Poor old Kyle and Chardonnay have had nothing much to do this series, except provide a stream of public service information about hermaphrodite babies.’
    hermaphroditic, epicene
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Late Middle English: via Latin from Greek hermaphroditos (see Hermaphroditus).