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adjective he·red·i·tary \hə-ˈre-də-ˌter-ē\

Simple Definition of hereditary

  • : passed or able to be passed from parent to child before birth

  • : passing from a person who has died to that person's child or younger relative

  • : holding a position or title that was passed on from your parent or an older relative

Full Definition of hereditary

  1. 1 a :  genetically transmitted or transmittable from parent to offspring b :  characteristic of or fostered by one's predecessors

  2. 2 a :  received or passing by inheritance or required to pass by inheritance or by reason of birth b :  having title or possession through inheritance or by reason of birth

  3. 3 :  of a kind established by tradition <hereditary enemies>

  4. 4 :  of or relating to inheritance or heredity

he·red·i·tar·i·ly play \-ˌre-də-ˈter-ə-lē\ adverb

Examples of hereditary

  1. He suffers from a rare hereditary condition.

  2. <eye and hair color are hereditary>

Origin of hereditary

Middle English hereditarie, from Latin hereditarius, from hereditas

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of hereditary

innate, inborn, inbred, congenital, hereditary mean not acquired after birth. innate applies to qualities or characteristics that are part of one's inner essential nature <an innate sense of fair play>. inborn suggests a quality or tendency either actually present at birth or so marked and deep-seated as to seem so <her inborn love of nature>. inbred suggests something either acquired from parents by heredity or so deeply rooted and ingrained as to seem acquired in that way <inbred political loyalties>. congenital and hereditary refer to what is acquired before or at birth, the former to things acquired during fetal development and the latter to things transmitted from one's ancestors <a congenital heart murmur> <eye color is hereditary>.

Other Genetics Terms

HEREDITARY Defined for Kids


adjective he·red·i·tary \hə-ˈre-də-ˌter-ē\

Definition of hereditary

  1. 1 :  capable of being passed from parent to offspring <hereditary disease>

  2. 2 :  received or passing from an ancestor to an heir

Medical Dictionary


adjective he·red·i·tary \hə-ˈred-ə-ˌter-ē\

Medical Definition of hereditary

  1. 1:  genetically transmitted or transmittable from parent to offspring—compare acquired 2, congenital 2, familial

  2. 2:  of or relating to inheritance or heredity

  3. he·red·i·tar·i·ly \-ˌred-ə-ˈter-ə-lē\play adverb

Seen and Heard

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February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

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