Meaning of involution in English:


Pronunciation /ɪnvəˈl(j)uːʃ(ə)n/


  • 1Physiology
    mass noun The shrinkage of an organ in old age or when inactive, e.g. of the uterus after childbirth.

    ‘Routine sections revealed normal thymic tissue with fatty involution and no evidence of tumor.’
    • ‘As gastrulation proceeds, the region of involution spreads laterally and vegetally so that involution involves the vegetal endoderm and so forms a circle around a plug of yolky cells.’
    • ‘Gradual involution of the Bartholin's glands can occur by the time a woman reaches 30 years of age.’
    • ‘Short dry periods provide insufficient time for regeneration and involution of mammary gland tissue.’
    • ‘This response is likely due to an increase in the amount of time required for uterine involution for primiparous cows but also may be related to maternal bonding between the cow and calf.’
  • 2Mathematics
    A function, transformation, or operator that is equal to its inverse, i.e. which gives the identity when applied to itself.

    ‘In his text Traité de géométrie in 1852 Chasles discusses cross ratio, pencils and involutions, all notions which he introduced.’
    • ‘The book also treats von Staudt's theory of complex elements as defined by real involutions.’
    • ‘The manner of their joining reflects the involutions of a Mobius strip.’
    • ‘He is also remembered by those working in algebraic geometry for his discovery of an involution, now named after him.’
    • ‘This work contains fundamental ideas of projective geometry such as the cross-ratio, perspective, involution and the circular points at infinity.’
  • 3formal mass noun The process of complicating something, or the state of being complicated.

    ‘periods of artistic involution’
    • ‘Urban annotation thus becomes a process of involution, an intensive rather than an extensive phenomenon: a potential anti-sprawl.’
    • ‘And like, a dear friend of mine, a lawyer had said, ‘that we should be involved in the process of evolution and not in the process of involution.’’
    • ‘In other words, it is a process of involution with Puram Shiva getting involved increasing with each step and descending to the stage where it look as physical.’
    • ‘The result is an irreversible and progressive process of involution as death approaches.’
    • ‘Three years ago, disturbed by the politics and social involution of a mere work-for-the-dole scheme, I delivered a paper in Sydney entitled ‘There is no such thing as a welfare economy’.’
    • ‘And the involutions of plot become if anything more elaborate than in the first half of the poem.’
    • ‘In the London ‘Rubaiyat’, the ornamentation characterised by scroll-like involutions of ‘A Book of Verse’ is largely replaced by overlapping elliptical and oval shapes formed from the intersections of vine branches.’
    • ‘Rejecting ‘one-word-after-another word English’, Foster Wallace's idiosyncratic prose captures the ‘internal head-speed’ of those rapidly losing the plot, mimicking the loopy narratives of their self-defeating involutions.’
    • ‘Kubrick's movie, more English than American, more comedy than tragedy, is subtle in its imagery yet comes nowhere near capturing the literary involutions, moral outrage, and the passion of Nabokov's novel.’
    • ‘All the familiar elements - the deliberate, stately percussion; the elongated, cyclical riffs; the snarled lyrical tautologies and abstruse involutions - are all intact.’
    • ‘Stephen Kent, of the University of Alberta examines the revolutions and involutions of this change in his book From Slogan Chanters to Mantra Chanters.’
    • ‘Out of its own impulse and initiative of the Spirit, a process of involutions occurred for some limited purpose, the precise nature of which is beyond human comprehension.’
    • ‘In ‘Mister Squishy,’ the story about the focus group, the main character, Terry Schmidt, is strewn about in this medium, a strange involution of tone and form.’
    complexity, intricacy, complication, twist, turn, entanglement, contortion


Late Middle English (in the sense (‘part) curling inwards’): from Latin involutio(n-), from involvere (see involve).