development (n.)

1756, "a gradual unfolding, a full working out or disclosure of the details of something;" see develop + -ment. Meaning "the internal process of expanding and growing" is by 1796; sense of "advancement through progressive stages" is by 1836. 

Of property, with a sense of "a bringing out of the latent possibilities" for use or profit, from 1885 (Pickering's glossary of Americanisms, 1816, has betterments "The improvements made on new lands, by cultivation, and the erection of buildings, &c."). Meaning "state of economic advancement" is from 1902.

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Definitions of development from WordNet

development (n.)
act of improving by expanding or enlarging or refining;
he congratulated them on their development of a plan to meet the emergency
they funded research and development
development (n.)
a process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage (especially a more advanced or mature stage);
the development of his ideas took many years
the slow development of her skill as a writer
Synonyms: evolution
development (n.)
(biology) the process of an individual organism growing organically; a purely biological unfolding of events involved in an organism changing gradually from a simple to a more complex level;
he proposed an indicator of osseous development in children
Synonyms: growth / growing / maturation / ontogeny / ontogenesis
development (n.)
a recent event that has some relevance for the present situation;
recent developments in Iraq
what a revolting development!
development (n.)
the act of making some area of land or water more profitable or productive or useful;
the development of Alaskan resources
Synonyms: exploitation
development (n.)
a district that has been developed to serve some purpose;
such land is practical for small park developments
development (n.)
a state in which things are improving; the result of developing (as in the early part of a game of chess);
after he saw the latest development he changed his mind and became a supporter
in chess your should take care of your development before moving your queen
development (n.)
processing a photosensitive material in order to make an image visible;
the development and printing of his pictures took only two hours
Synonyms: developing
development (n.)
(music) the section of a composition or movement (especially in sonata form) where the major musical themes are developed and elaborated;