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

Synonyms & Antonyms for descend


decline, dip, drop, fall, plunge, sink


arise, ascend, climb, mount, rise, uprise, upsweep, upturn

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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

That’s because each year the world’s biggest and most innovative camper manufacturers descend on Düsseldorf, Germany, to show the latest and greatest in vans, RVs, travel trailers, and more. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Aluminum camper trailer features a convertible roof for star gazing," 13 Aug. 2018 The shop ships it goods from Lithuania and take 1 to 4 weeks to be delivered, so now is the perfect time to place your order before winter descends on us like the White Walkers on Game Of Thrones. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "Giant Knit Bean Bags Are the New Giant Knit Blankets," 6 Aug. 2018 That's the current situation in Green Township, where a tsunami of sit-down and fast-food restaurants has descended on the community. Mallorie Sullivan,, "3 headlines: Cincinnati makes Kesha cry, Big Red Machine and lots of new food," 13 July 2018 The fireworks show is scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. The village was one of several towns that were forced to cancel their traditional holiday pyrotechnic shows after storms descended on the area on the night of July 4. Susan Demar Lafferty, Daily Southtown, "New Lenox reschedules fireworks," 12 July 2018 Slowly descend into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor, while keeping your arms straight in front of you. Jason Wanlass, idahostatesman, "Embrace the benefits of resistance tubing for a well-rounded workout," 22 June 2018 Shipp—who will soon lead the Shaft reboot with Samuel L. Jackson—proudly shared the carpet with Max Mara’s co-host Maria Giulia Maramotti, before descending into the hotel’s garden, greeting throngs of friends, family, and industry peers. Britt Hennemuth, Vanities, "Alexandra Shipp Is Officially the Face of the Future," 13 June 2018 Blassingame descends from his home next to the park and is out there for a different reason. Benjamin Oreskes,, "Many people work hard to avoid the homeless. These volunteers embrace them," 7 June 2018 The Ham n' Maple Bacon Bowl Sweet Jams Spotify Playlist, a genius mash-up ready to descend upon our eager ears. Southern Living, "Cracker Barrel's "Sweet Jams" Spotify Playlist Is Going to Be Your New Obsession," 25 Apr. 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

28 Nov 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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More from Merriam-Webster on descend

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with descend

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for descend

Spanish Central: Translation of descend

Nglish: Translation of descend for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of descend for Arabic Speakers

Comments on descend

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the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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