noun \di-ˈsent\

Definition of DESCENT

a :  derivation from an ancestor :  birth, lineage <of French descent>
b :  transmission or devolution of an estate by inheritance usually in the descending line
c :  the fact or process of originating from an ancestral stock
d :  the shaping or development in nature and character by transmission from a source :  derivation
:  the act or process of descending
:  a step downward in a scale of gradation; specifically :  one generation in an ancestral line or genealogical scale
a :  an inclination downward :  slope
b :  a descending way (as a downgrade or stairway)
c obsolete :  the lowest part
a :  attack, invasion
b :  a sudden disconcerting appearance (as for a visit)
:  a downward step (as in station or value) :  decline <descent of the family to actual poverty>

Examples of DESCENT

  1. The book describes his descent into a deep depression after the death of his wife.
  2. her slow descent to a life of addiction
  3. The only path that goes down to the river is a rather steep descent, so be careful.

Origin of DESCENT

Middle English, from Anglo-French descente, from Anglo-French descendre
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Biology Terms

autochthonous, fecund, homunculus, phylogeny, substrate


noun \di-ˈsent\   (Medical Dictionary)

Medical Definition of DESCENT

: 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


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

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 types—patrilineal 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.


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