Why do we say "Survival of the fittest.

Well-Known Expressions

Survival of the fittest


Species adapt and change by natural selection with the best suited mutations becoming dominant


When setting this Wordplay we had in mind "Survival of the Fittest", but on seeing the answers we realized that "Sins of the Father" or "Sins of the Flesh" were also valid answers so included these when drawing the winner.

Although most people would likely attribute this expression to Charles Darwin, it was actually first coined by British polymath Herbert Spencer who used the phrase, after reading Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859), in his Principles of Biology (1864).  In the book Spencer compared his own economic theories and Darwin's biological ones, using the expression twice:

"This survival of the fittest, which I have here sought to express in mechanical terms, is that which Mr. Darwin has called 'natural selection', or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life"

"This survival of the fittest, implies multiplication of the fittest."

Darwin first used Spencer's phrase as a synonym for "natural selection" in the fifth edition of On the Origin of Species (1869).  By 'fittest', of course, Spencer and Darwin didn't have in mind the commonly used meaning of the word today (the most highly trained and physically energetic) but rather those animals most suited to their environment and thus best fitted to survive.

Alphabetical list of expressions

Challenge yourself with BookBrowse Wordplays

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Speak No Evil
    Speak No Evil
    by Uzodinma Iweala
    Young Nigerian American writer Uzodinma Iweala is fast becoming known as a powerful chronicler of ...
  • Book Jacket: Winter
    by Ali Smith
    "God was dead; to begin with." This first sentence of Winter perfectly sets up the dreamy journey ...
  • Book Jacket: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    by Atia Abawi

    When you're a refugee, everyone has lost, at least for the time being... And the journey ...

  • Book Jacket: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Sometimes I Lie
    by Alice Feeney

    This brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something a lie if you believe it's the truth?
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Anatomy of a Miracle
    by Jonathan Miles

    A stunning novel that offers an exploration of faith, science and the meaning of life.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One N U G

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.