One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A subdivision of a line of ancestry. In later use (Genetics): a population of cells, organisms, etc., derived from an isogenic cell line or inbred line which is distinguished by having a trait differing in some way from the original line, caused by mutation or inherited from a genetically impure ancestor.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Robert Chambers (1802–1871), publisher and writer. From sub- + line.
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