Definition of polymorphism in English:



mass noun
  • 1The condition of occurring in several different forms.

    ‘the complexity and polymorphism of human cognition’
    1. 1.1Biology The occurrence of different forms among the members of a population or colony, or in the life cycle of an individual organism.
      ‘the workers of this species exhibit polymorphism, specialized physical castes’
      • ‘Many of the 5000 or so bryozoan species exhibit polymorphism.’
      • ‘Examples of the concept include Integration and polymorphism: degree of autonomy of individual versus integration of specialized individuals, relative degrees of fitness (Boardman and Cheetham, 1973; Schopf, 1973; Bates and Kirk, 1985; Pitelka and Ashmun, 1985; Mackie, 1986).’
      • ‘Both position types occur in every crossbill population studied, so the maintenance of this polymorphism necessitates an evolutionary explanation.’
      • ‘In the subclass Hexacorallia, polymorphism of polyps in colonies is unknown, so for this group, variation in life cycles simply involves fission.’
    2. 1.2Genetics The presence of genetic variation within a population, upon which natural selection can operate.
      • ‘Double reduction may play a significant role in plant evolution and the maintenance of genetic polymorphism in natural populations.’
      • ‘A common goal of population genetic investigations is to explain the fate of genetic polymorphism within a species.’
      • ‘Organisms exhibiting genetic polymorphism often also exhibit true alternative life-history strategies in which behavioral tactics are genetically fixed.’
      • ‘Future clinical trials may be aimed at specific patient populations determined by genetic polymorphism and other risk factors.’
      • ‘Some of the genetic polymorphism that existed in the ancestral populations was lost in the populations of the two lakes.’
    3. 1.3Computing A feature of a programming language that allows routines to use variables of different types at different times.
      ‘object oriented programming introduces novel features like polymorphism’
      • ‘Late binding in addition to data types provides a needed aspect to allow polymorphism or the choosing of an object's method implementation at run-time.’
      • ‘And, templates can be used with inheritance for applications such as parameterized virtuality, which combines the best of two forms of polymorphism.’
      • ‘RMI uses object serialization to marshal and unmarshal parameters and does not truncate types, supporting true object-oriented polymorphism.’
      • ‘The doubling-up of parentheses in the way Verity describes is nothing more or less than an early form of polymorphism, as functions can also be seen as virtual arrays of infinite values.’
      • ‘A sketch about patterns, interfaces and polymorphism preceded a discussion of the Memento, Command and Objects for State patterns, which were fine and relatively unambiguous.’