1640s, "to unfold, open out, expand," from Latin evolvere "to unroll, roll out, roll forth, unfold," especially of books; figuratively "to make clear, disclose; to produce, develop," from assimilated form of ex "out" (see ex-) + volvere "to roll," from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve." Meaning "to develop by natural processes to a higher state" is from 1832. Related: Evolved; evolving.
Entries linking to Evolve
It forms all or part of: archivolt; circumvolve; convoluted; convolution; devolve; elytra; evolution; evolve; Helicon; helicopter; helix; helminth; lorimer; ileus; involve; revolt; revolution; revolve; valve; vault (v.1) "jump or leap over;" vault (n.1) "arched roof or ceiling;" volte-face; voluble; volume; voluminous; volute; volvox; volvulus; vulva; wale; walk; wallet; wallow; waltz; well (v.) "to spring, rise, gush;" welter; whelk; willow.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit valate "turns round," ulvam "womb, vulva;" Lithuanian valtis "twine, net," vilnis "wave," apvalus "round;" Old Church Slavonic valiti "roll, welter," vlŭna "wave;" Greek eluein "to roll round, wind, enwrap," eilein "twist, turn, squeeze; revolve, rotate," helix "spiral object;" Latin volvere "to turn, twist;" Gothic walwjan "to roll;" Old English wealwian "roll," weoloc "whelk, spiral-shelled mollusk;" Old High German walzan "to roll, waltz;" Old Irish fulumain "rolling;" Welsh olwyn "wheel."
Used in medicine, mathematics, and general writing in various senses including "growth to maturity and development of an individual living thing" (1660s). Modern use in biology, of species, first attested 1832 in works of Scottish geologist Charles Lyell. Charles Darwin used the word in print once only, in the closing paragraph of "The Origin of Species" (1859), and preferred descent with modification, in part because evolution already had been used in the discarded 18c. homunculus theory of embryological development (first proposed under this name by Bonnet, 1762) and in part because it carried a sense of "progress" not present in Darwin's idea. But Victorian belief in progress prevailed (and the advantages of brevity), and Herbert Spencer and other biologists after Darwin popularized evolution.