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The Collaborative International Dictionary

allele \al*lele"\ n.

  1. 1

    1. one of two or more alternative forms of a gene that can have the same place on homologous chromosomes and are responsible for alternative traits.

    Syn: allelomorph

  2. either of a pair of Mendelian characters that may occur in an organism as a consequence of variation at one gene locus.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1931, from German allel, abbreviation of allelomorph (1902), coined from Greek allel- "one another" (from allos "other;" see alias (adv.)) + morphe "form" (see Morpheus).


n. (context genetics English) One of a number of alternative forms of the same gene occupying a given position on a chromosome.


n. one of two alternate forms of a gene that can have the same locus on homologous chromosomes and are responsible for alternative traits; "some alleles are dominant over others" [syn: allelomorph]


An allele ( or ), or allel, is one of a number of alternative forms of the same gene or same genetic locus. Sometimes, different alleles can result in different observable phenotypic traits, such as different pigmentation. However, most genetic variations result in little or no observable variation.

The word "allele" is a short form of allelomorph ("other form", a word coined by William Bateson), which was used in the early days of genetics to describe variant forms of a gene detected as different phenotypes. It derives from the Greek prefix ἀλλήλ, allel, meaning "reciprocal" or "each other", which itself is related to the Greek adjective ἄλλος (allos; cognate with Latin "alius"), meaning "other".

Most multicellular organisms have two sets of chromosomes; that is, they are diploid. These chromosomes are referred to as homologous chromosomes. If both alleles at a gene (or locus) on the homologous chromosomes are the same, they and the organism are homozygous with respect to that gene (or locus). If the alleles are different, they and the organism are heterozygous with respect to that gene.

Usage examples of "allele".

His parents must have bribed a technician to conceal the oncogene and Whittington allele in one or the other.

He may, like a blue-eyed person, have two copies of the same allele, or he may have any two alleles chosen from the half dozen alternatives available in the population at large.

All you have to concede is that it is possible for a single gene, other things being equal and lots of other essential genes and environmental factors being present, to make a body more likely to save somebody from drowning than its allele would.

That is say there may be a gene for laying two eggs, a rival allele for laying three, another allele for laying four, and so on, although in practice it is unlikely to be quite as simple as this.

Whenever, in a wild population, a t allele happens to arise by mutation, it immediately spreads like a brushfire.

The one unexplained allele he had found on 22 might not be the source of the problem.

Alliance that you have discovered an un-researched pathological allele and want to find how it causes cell failure.

The allele giving her bridge that innocent flip floated detached in either or both her parents.

Her Myrna Loy allele might hide a matched half that codes for Irish pug: a half-breed, heterozygous.

He has taught himself to see her, has named that recessive allele that manifests itself only once every hundred generations.

He possesses the Lovering allele of cold virus paranoia, wearing wool coats in the height of summer.

An allele that might not have come to the surface for years had Woytowich not been so keen on bestowing super-stimulated intelligence on her.

To simply throw together one allele from a Gliksin and another from a Barast, then just hope for the best hardly seems prudent.

The allele for yellow-eyes has become as common as that for green eyes.

Norman worked harder to educate Sasha, teaching him the basics of math and science and trying to use unfamiliar words in conversation -- atmosphere, adjective, allele, atom, anthropology -- so the boy would have to ask what they meant.