Definition of heterogeneous in US English:



  • 1Diverse in character or content.

    ‘a large and heterogeneous collection’
    • ‘He created a nationalist and revolutionary rhetoric in order to transform the heterogeneous state into a unitary entity.’
    • ‘Almost two decades later, it is still hard to quantify such settlements, as the city's topography accentuates their heterogeneous character and formal diversity.’
    • ‘For this brief review, I have taken a pragmatic approach, collecting information from heterogeneous sources, with very different degrees of reliability.’
    • ‘Surrounding these core units was a heterogeneous coalition as diverse in their loyalties as they were in their equipment, training, and combat capabilities.’
    • ‘First, it is difficult to fix categories in advance for such a heterogeneous collection of work without forcing individual entries into often inappropriate pigeon holes.’
    • ‘To manage the affairs of a small homogenous state is relatively simple as compared to the affairs of a heterogeneous state of continental dimension.’
    • ‘Collectively, Antarctic studies have painted a picture of a biologically diverse and heterogeneous marine environment.’
    • ‘Our sample is not formally representative of any specific population, but it approximates a heterogeneous collection of clinically referred youth.’
    • ‘Distributed widely as they are in the political spectrum, these heterogeneous groups represent very diverse outlooks and interests as a whole.’
    • ‘You would be hard-pressed to come up with a more heterogeneous collection of oddments.’
    • ‘Can one really expect what is in reality a globally heterogeneous collection of movements to have a single message’?’
    • ‘This study has limitations, including the small, heterogeneous population and data collection at a single site.’
    • ‘They were a racially and ethnically heterogeneous group; 84 percent of the children were eligible for free or reduced price lunches, and a majority read at or below grade level.’
    • ‘The population is heterogeneous and cosmopolitan to a degree almost unknown elsewhere.’
    • ‘Clayton's proposed methodology for cultural studies serves as a wide umbrella for a heterogeneous collection of individual essays.’
    • ‘To be prepared to teach all children in the schools of today and tomorrow, teachers must have an understanding of the diversity present in heterogeneous classrooms.’
    • ‘Apparently, Canada succeeded where the U.S. had failed in assembling multiculturally diverse, heterogeneous groups of people.’
    • ‘However, in a heterogeneous habitat diverse elements may influence movement.’
    • ‘The narrow inclusion and validity criteria stated in the protocol ensured that studies included would be valid and less likely to be heterogeneous or diverse.’
    • ‘In general, blues festivals attract a very diverse, heterogeneous audience.’
    diverse, diversified, varied, varying, miscellaneous, assorted, mixed, sundry, contrasting, disparate, different, differing, divergent, unrelated, variegated, wide-ranging
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    1. 1.1Chemistry Of or denoting a process involving substances in different phases (solid, liquid, or gaseous).
      • ‘My research interests are organic chemistry mechanisms, organometallic chemistry, and heterogeneous catalysis.’
      • ‘The catalytic converter is a good example of a heterogeneous catalysis in action.’
      • ‘For this reason the process chosen is usually heterogeneous catalysis, because this keeps the cost and the number of process steps to a minimum.’
      • ‘Abstract Sickle hemoglobin nucleation occurs in solution as a homogeneous process or on existing polymers in a heterogeneous process.’
      • ‘Chemisorption plays an essential role in corrosion, heterogeneous catalysis, and electrochemistry.’
    2. 1.2Mathematics Incommensurable through being of different kinds, degrees, or dimensions.
      • ‘I explore the consequences of the logically heterogeneous character of exception phrase NPs for proof-theoretic accounts of quantifiers in natural language.’
      • ‘Since the variances in shell growth rate were heterogeneous, the data were square-root transformed before analysis to make variances homogeneous.’
      • ‘The heterogeneous variant should be counted twice, because statistically it is twice as likely as either of the homogeneous combinations.’
      • ‘If the rate ratio was heterogeneous, then the maximum-likelihood estimates of parameters under the free-ratio model were used to calculate d N and d S along each branch.’
      • ‘In this article, we implement a number of models (statistical distributions) for heterogeneous ratios among sites.’


The correct spelling for the word meaning ‘diverse in character or content’ is heterogeneous, but a fairly common misspelling is heterogenous. The reason for the error probably relates to the pronunciation, which, in rapid speech, often skims over the fifth syllable as if to skip the e. Take care to note that heterogenous is a different word, which is used in specialized medical and biological senses and means ‘originating outside the organism.’


Early 17th century: from medieval Latin heterogeneus, from Greek heterogenēs, from heteros ‘other’ + genos ‘a kind’.