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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Fecundity \Fe*cun"di*ty\, n. [L. fecunditas: cf. F. f['e]condit['e]. See Fecund.]

  1. The quality or power of producing fruit; fruitfulness; especially (Biol.), the quality in female organisms of reproducing rapidly and in great numbers.

  2. The power of germinating; as in seeds.

  3. The power of bringing forth in abundance; fertility; richness of invention; as, the fecundity of God's creative power.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

early 15c., from Latin fecunditatem (nominative fecunditas) "fruitfulness, fertility," from fecundus "fruitful, fertile" (see fecund).


n. 1 Ability to produce offspring. 2 Ability to cause growth. 3 Number, rate, or capacity of offspring production. 4 Rate of production of young by a female.

  1. n. the intellectual fruitfulness of a creative imagination [syn: fruitfulness]

  2. the state of being fertile; capable of producing offspring [syn: fertility] [ant: sterility]

  3. the quality of something that causes or assists healthy growth [syn: fruitfulness] [ant: fruitlessness]


In demography and biology, fecundity is the actual reproductive rate of an organism or population, measured by the number of gametes (eggs), seed set, or asexual propagules. Fecundity is similar to fertility, the natural capability to produce offspring. A lack of fertility is infertility while a lack of fecundity would be called sterility.

Demography considers only human fecundity which is often intentionally limited through contraception, while biology studies all organisms. Fecundity is under both genetic and environmental control, and is the major measure of fitness. Fecundation is another term for fertilization. Superfecundity refers to an organism's ability to store another organism's sperm (after copulation) and fertilize its own eggs from that store after a period of time, essentially making it appear as though fertilization occurred without sperm (i.e. parthenogenesis).

Fecundity is important and well studied in the field of population ecology. Fecundity can increase or decrease in a population according to current conditions and certain regulating factors. For instance, in times of hardship for a population, such as a lack of food, juvenile and eventually adult fecundity has been shown to decrease (i.e. due to a lack of resources the juvenile individuals are unable to reproduce, eventually the adults will run out of resources and reproduction will cease).

Fecundity has also been shown to increase in ungulates with relation to warmer weather.

In sexual evolutionary biology, especially in sexual selection, fecundity is contrasted to reproductivity.

In obstetrics and gynecology, fecundability is the probability of being pregnant in a single menstrual cycle, and fecundity is the probability of achieving a live birth within a single cycle.

Usage examples of "fecundity".

From all these, perhaps, and from other monsters likewise--goblin shapes evolved by Nature as destroyers, as equilibrists, as counterchecks to that prodigious fecundity, which, unhindered, would thicken the deep into one measureless and waveless ferment of being.

Fecundal selection is said by them to be constantly tending to increase the reproductive rate, because fecundity is partly a matter of heredity, and the fecund parents leave more offspring with the same characteristic.

Small, vivacious brown wrens scolded the others as they carried twigs and dried moss to a nest cavity in an ancient, gnarled apple tree, proving its youthful fecundity with its flock of pink blooms.

The correlation between fecundity and longevity which Karl Pearson has demonstrated gives longevity another great advantage as a standard in sexual selection.

The same old processes of automatic selection between rival molecules by reason of their longevity, fecundity, and copying-fidelity, still go on as blindly and as inevitably as they did in the far-off days.

In the terms of the last chapter, these are longevity, fecundity, and copying-fidelity.

As he finished each - chastity, obedience, mannerliness, cleanliness, and fecundity - Mara bowed and touched her forehead to the floor.

There are instances of fecundity at nine years recorded by Ephemerides, Wolffius, Savonarola, and others.

These traces of an unnatural asceticism come from the dualist ideas of the Catharists, and not from the inspired poet who sang nature and her fecundity, who made nests for doves, inviting them to multiply under the watch of God, and who imposed manual labor on his friars as a sacred duty.

To dream of coaxing shy fecundity To an unlikely freak by physicking With superstitious drugs and quackeries That work you harm, not good.

Nor will the fecund millions in the slums and labour-ghettos, who to-day die of all the ills due to chronic underfeeding and overcrowding, and who die with their fecundity largely unrealised, die in that future day when the increased food-getting efficiency of socialism will give them all they want to eat.

By the fecundity of my kind and the fevered twists of their DNA, I call upon the Great Master of Selective Breeding to make an example most hideous of these blasphemers!

And the Fecundity (Plenitude) of Nature has one law, he maintains: progressive diversification (what we would call progressive complexification or differentiation).

Behemoth's fecundity, as we now understood, was inexhaustible, and, although the Tertiary demon's claws displayed a powerful vitality that seemed undiminished by their decortication, we could see where the swarm was beginning to gnaw chunks from the very bones themselves.

The turning of the seasons was a longer, slower rhythm, an almost imperceptible crescendo and decrescendo of vitality and dormancy, fecundity and death.