descendant

1 of 2

adjective

de·​scen·​dant di-ˈsen-dənt How to pronounce descendant (audio)
variants or less commonly descendent
1
: moving or directed downward
listed in descendant order
2
: proceeding from an ancestor or source

descendant

2 of 2

noun

variants or less commonly descendent
1
: one originating or coming from an ancestral stock or source : one descended from another
descendants of King David
a descendant of an ancient grass
2
: one deriving directly from a precursor or prototype
Italian and other descendants of Latin

Examples of descendant in a Sentence

Adjective the descendant branches of a weeping willow Noun One of the famous inventor's descendants is also an inventor. Many people in this area are descendants of German immigrants. Recent evidence supports the theory that birds are the modern descendants of dinosaurs. The Italian language is one of Latin's descendants.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
In recent years, members of the descendant community have approached the newfound attention with caution. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 July 2023 He’s got a slightly different notion of what a descendant community might be. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, 27 Sep. 2021 The common variations in the human genome were mostly present in the ancestral human population in Africa and have been inherited by all the descendant populations around the world. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 4 July 2011 Georgetown University, pushed by a 2019 student vote, has established a Reconciliation Fund to pay for projects at descendant communities linked to Maryland Jesuit plantations. Peter Grier, The Christian Science Monitor, 16 June 2023 But even as governments, nonprofit organizations and universities collaborate on reef restoration projects along the Atlantic coast, the voices of descendant communities such as the Muscogee (Creek) Nation tend to be overlooked. Scott Hershberger, Scientific American, 13 July 2020 It’s been crucial for Monticello to build trust and maintain descendant relationships over time so that programs like the scholarship are collaborative rather than top-down, said Bates. Washington Post, 7 June 2021 In Richmond, two cemeteries that experienced decades of decline and neglect — much of it deliberately inflicted in the past, descendant families said, by a hostile white government — now have a clear future under a nonprofit group that recently acquired the land. Kirk Johnson, New York Times, 30 Sep. 2020 There will be many segments where the descendant populations don't have any signature of Neandertal admixture, and a few segments where the Neandertal allele predominates, through random chance. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 25 June 2012
Noun
But according to protocol explained on the royal family website, Harry’s official surname is Mountbatten-Windsor, as are descendants of Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, 15 Feb. 2024 The First Nations is a term used to identify Indigenous peoples in Canada who are descendants of its original inhabitants and lived there for thousands of years, before the arrival of European explorers. Virginia Chamlee, Peoplemag, 15 Feb. 2024 Tacos al pastor Ubiquitous all over the capital city, tacos al pastor are direct descendants of the lamb shawarma brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico City. Claudia Alarcón, Forbes, 12 Feb. 2024 The mission of the CDC Foundation is to raise a $5 million endowment to support the current Voices For Our Fathers Legacy Foundation scholarships to offer several $100,000 scholarships annually to the study’s descendants. Jasmine Browley, Essence, 8 Feb. 2024 Advertisement Already polls consistently show that the idea of compensating the descendants of people who were enslaved is unpopular with most voters. Erika D. Smith, Los Angeles Times, 2 Feb. 2024 Among the recommendations was a proposal for monetary compensation to be paid to descendants of enslaved Africans living in California. Chandelis Duster, CNN, 1 Feb. 2024 People who claimed to be descendants of the grocer said at the hearings that Smith shot at their family member and shouldn’t be memorialized, according to local media reports. Rachel Hatzipanagos, Washington Post, 29 Jan. 2024 Historians didn’t know the archive existed until an unnamed direct descendant of Matzinger discovered it. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'descendant.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English dessendaunte, from Anglo-French descendant, from Latin descendent-, descendens, present participle of descendere — see descend

Noun

French & Latin; French descendant, from Late Latin descendent-, descendens, from Latin

First Known Use

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1569, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of descendant was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near descendant

Cite this Entry

“Descendant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/descendant. Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

descendant

1 of 2 adjective
de·​scend·​ant
variants also descendent
di-ˈsen-dənt
1
: moving or directed downward
2
: proceeding from an ancestor or source

descendant

2 of 2 noun
variants also descendent
1
: one descended from another or from a common stock
2
: one coming directly from an earlier and usually similar type or individual

Legal Definition

descendant

noun
de·​scen·​dant
variants also descendent
di-ˈsen-dənt
: a blood relative of a later generation

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