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From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) [web1913]:

 Evolution \Ev`o*lu"tion\, n. [L. evolutio an unrolling: cf. F.
    ['e]volution evolution. See {Evolve}.]
  1. The act of unfolding or unrolling; hence, in the process
       of growth; development; as, the evolution of a flower from
       a bud, or an animal from the egg.
  2. A series of things unrolled or unfolded. ``The whole
       evolution of ages. --Dr. H. More.
  3. (Geom.) The formation of an involute by unwrapping a
       thread from a curve as an evolute. --Hutton.
  4. (Arith. & Alg.) The extraction of roots; -- the reverse of
  5. (Mil. & Naval) A prescribed movement of a body of troops,
       or a vessel or fleet; any movement designed to effect a
       new arrangement or disposition; a maneuver.
             "Those evolutions are best which can be executed with
             the greatest celerity, compatible with regularity."
  6. (Biol.)
       (a) A general name for the history of the steps by which
           any living organism has acquired the morphological and
           physiological characters which distinguish it; a
           gradual unfolding of successive phases of growth or
       (b) That theory of generation which supposes the germ to
           pre["e]xist in the parent, and its parts to be
           developed, but not actually formed, by the procreative
           act; -- opposed to epigenesis.
  7. (Metaph.) That series of changes under natural law which
       involves continuous progress from the homogeneous to the
       heterogeneous in structure, and from the single and simple
       to the diverse and manifold in quality or function. The
       pocess is by some limited to organic beings; by others it
       is applied to the inorganic and the psychical. It is also
       applied to explain the existence and growth of
       institutions, manners, language, civilization, and every
       product of human activity. The agencies and laws of the
       process are variously explained by different philosophrs.
             "Evolution is to me series with development."

From WordNet (r) 2.0 [wn]:

      1: 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 evolution of Greek civilization"; "the slow
           development of her skill as a writer" [syn: {development}]
           [ant: {degeneration}]
      2: (biology) the sequence of events involved in the
         evolutionary development of a species or taxonomic group
         of organisms [syn: {phylogeny}, {phylogenesis}]

"All over the world people are screaming Revolution but in Fife, Alabama their screaming 'Evolution!!' and 'We want our thumbs!!'" --Bill Hicks

Charles Darwin

A free, computer-generated Ebook from Project Gutenberg

On the origin of species by Charles Darwin