Definition of superfetation in English:



mass nounMedicine Zoology
  • 1The occurrence of a second conception during pregnancy, giving rise to embryos of different ages in the uterus.

    ‘this is an example of superfetation and of ovulation during pregnancy’
    • ‘The authors argue that conception during pregnancy, known as superfetation, benefits female reproductive fitness by reducing the risk of infanticide, extending the female's window of opportunity for conception, and increasing the genetic diversity of the litter.’
    • ‘When does are bred on multiple heat cycles, it may appear that superfetation has occurred due to fetal sizes and maturity differences.’
    • ‘By re-examining extensive existing data on European badgers’ mating behaviour, the researchers found strong evidence to suggest that the females exhibit ‘superfetation’, where another foetus forms in the uterus before the delivery of the first.’
    • ‘The topmost photo at right is of an ovary of the species Poeciliopsis presidionis, which has superfetation and extensive maternal provisioning.’
    • ‘The researchers believe the combination of embryonic diapause and superfetation may benefit females, regardless of their social system, by enabling cryptic polyandry - mating with more than one male.’
    1. 1.1 The accretion of one thing on another.
      ‘the superfetation of ideas’


Early 17th century: from French superfétation or modern Latin superfetatio(n-), from Latin superfetare, from super- ‘above’ + fetus ‘fetus’.