: the act or process of descending from a higher to a lower location <descent of the testes into the scrotum>
a: derivation from an ancestor b: the fact or process of originating by generation from an ancestral stock (as a species or genus)
: a former method of distillation in which the material was heated in a vessel having its outlet underneath so that the vapors produced were forced to descend
System of acknowledged social parentage whereby a person may claim kinship ties with another. Descent systems vary widely. The practical importance of descent comes from its use as a means for individuals to assert rights, duties, privileges, or status. Descent has special influence when rights to succession, inheritance, or residence follow kinship lines. One method of limiting the recognition of kinship is to emphasize the relationship through one parent only. Such unilineal kinship systems are of two main typespatrilineal systems, in which the relationships through the father are emphasized; and matrilineal systems, in which maternal relationships are stressed. These systems differ radically from cognatic systems, in which everyone has similar obligations to, and expectations from, both paternal and maternal kin. The cognatic system is somewhat vague and tends to characterize the more industrialized countries, in which individual rights and duties are increasingly defined institutionally or legally.