One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Chiefly Biology. Characteristic of an organism, tissue, etc. that is losing or has lost viability; lacking full physiological or metabolic function; not living.
2Genetics. Of a mutation, mutant gene, etc.: associated with reduced viability but allowing a significant proportion (typically more than 10 per cent) of affected individuals to survive or reach maturity.
Genetics A subvital mutation, mutant gene, etc.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Chambers's Edinburgh Journal. From sub- + vital.
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