de·scend | \di-ˈsend, dē-\

Definition of descend 

intransitive verb

1 : to pass from a higher place or level to a lower one descended from the platform

2 : to pass in discussion from what is logically prior or more comprehensive descends from the general to the specific

3a : to originate or come from an ancestral stock or source : derive descends from an old merchant family

b : to pass by inheritance a desk that has descended in the family

c : to pass by transmission songs descended from old ballads

4a : to incline, lead, or extend downward the road descends to the river

b physiology : to conduct nerve impulses away from the brain … lesions that interrupt the descending pathways from the cortex or brain stem produce weakness in voluntary movements …— Claude Ghez and John Krakauer

5a : to swoop or pounce down (as in a sudden attack) a hawk descending upon its prey

b : to appear suddenly and often disconcertingly as if from above reporters descended on the candidate

6 : to proceed in a sequence or gradation from higher to lower or from more remote to nearer or more recent Their scores were listed in descending order.

7a : to lower oneself in status or dignity : stoop

b : to worsen and sink in condition or estimation He descended into a deep depression. descended to poverty descend into chaos

c : to pass from higher to lower musical notes The harmony descends chromatically.

transitive verb

1 : to pass, move, or climb down or down along descending the staircase

2 : to extend down along a narrow scar descended her arm

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Other Words from descend

descendible \-ˈsen-də-bəl \ adjective

Examples of descend in a Sentence

Wait for the elevator to descend. The workers descended into the hole. A herd of goats descended into the valley. The airplane will descend to a lower altitude soon. Descending the mountain was even more dangerous than climbing it. The children descended the staircase silently. The path descends to the river. The stairs descended into the tunnel.
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Recent Examples on the Web

About a minute before the accident, the plane believed to be Poelman's descended to about 874 feet altitude, then climbed to 900 feet before the two planes appeared to merge on radar data, the report said. Laurel Andrews, Anchorage Daily News, "First findings released in Susitna River fatal midair plane collision," 22 June 2018 The buses eventually descended a ramp 100 feet to the field level of the stadium, where players, coaches and Kroenke took in the view as round-the-clock construction continued. Gary Klein,, "Rams tour Inglewood Stadium site and like what they see as progress continues," 15 June 2018 The small craft descended to just 30 feet above the wreck and snapped photos of those unique cannons. Cleve R. Wootson Jr.,, "A robot submarine found the 'Holy Grail of shipwrecks.' It’s worth billions.," 24 May 2018 The small craft descended to just 30 feet above the wreck and snapped photos of those cannons. Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post, "A robot submarine found the ‘Holy Grail of shipwrecks.’ It’s worth billions.," 23 May 2018 The vehicle descended to 30 feet above the wreck to take several photographs, including some of the distinctive dolphin engravings on the San Jose's cannons, a key piece of visual evidence. Fox News, "Autonomous vehicle helped locate ‘holy grail of shipwrecks’ off Colombia," 22 May 2018 The service drops off and picks up mail at Hualapai Hilltop at a higher elevation, from where pack animals descend roughly eight miles to the village of Supai. Russ Wiles, azcentral, "Incident with horse at Havasupai casts shadow on Arizona tourism," 10 May 2018 The house then descends to a den, the sole two-story room, with dramatic six-foot-high windows that frame the ever-changing cloudscape. Ann Herold, Los Angeles Magazine, "Inside an Altadena Home That’s a Live-In Sculpture," 17 Apr. 2018 That has led some international airlines to issue guidance to pilots to monitor radiation activity and to descend to lower altitudes when levels rise. Barbara Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Your Plane Can Make You Sick," 20 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'descend.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of descend

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 3b

History and Etymology for descend

Middle English, from Anglo-French descendre, from Latin descendere, from de- + scandere to climb — more at scan

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Statistics for descend

Last Updated

3 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for descend

The first known use of descend was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for descend



English Language Learners Definition of descend

: to go down : to go or move from a higher to a lower place or level

: to slope or lead downward

: to go or change to a worse state or condition


de·scend | \di-ˈsend \
descended; descending

Kids Definition of descend

1 : to come or go down from a higher place or level to a lower one The elevator descended.

2 : to move down or down along Descending the cliff was dangerous.

3 : to slope or lead downward The road descends to the valley.

4 : to come down from an earlier time The custom descends from ancient times.

5 : to come down from a source or ancestor : derive Many words descend from Latin.

6 : to be handed down to an heir

7 : to arrive from or as if from the sky Locusts descended on the crops. Holiday shoppers descended on the mall.

8 : to sink in dignity or respectability : stoop I never thought they would descend to cheating.

9 : to sink to a worse condition The classroom descended into chaos.

de·scend | \di-ˈsend \

Medical Definition of descend 

: to pass from a higher place or level to a lower one normally the testicle descends into the scrotum between the seventh and ninth month in uteroTherapeutic Notes

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de·scend | \di-ˈsend \

Legal Definition of descend 

: to pass by inheritance

Other Words from descend

descendibility \-ˌsen-də-ˈbi-lə-tē \ noun
descendible \-ˈsen-də-bəl \ adjective

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Comments on descend

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