de·​scen·​dant | \ di-ˈsen-dənt How to pronounce descendant (audio) \
variants: or less commonly descendent

Definition of descendant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : moving or directed downward listed in descendant order
2 : proceeding from an ancestor or source


variants: or less commonly descendent

Definition of descendant (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for descendant

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Did You Know?

Descendant is the opposite of ancestor. Your grandparents' descendants are those who are descended from them—your parents, your brothers and sisters, and any children that any of you may have. It's been claimed that every person on earth is a descendant of Muhammad, and of every historical person before him—Julius Caesar, the Buddha, etc.—who started a line of descent. (Some of us still find this hard to believe.) And not all descendants are human; every modern thesaurus, for example, could be called the descendant of the one devised by Peter Mark Roget in 1852.

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The city has vowed to work with descendant groups to identify the locations of mission-era cemeteries; conduct an archival investigation; and form an archaeology committee in which Tap Pilam would have an advisory role. Elaine Ayala, San Antonio Express-News, "Ayala: In court, the city of San Antonio can at least attempt to be on the right side of history," 29 Apr. 2021 The Alamo Trust, which operates the site under contract with the Texas General Land Office, prohibited all descendant groups from conducting ceremonies in the church in late 2016. Scott Huddleston, San Antonio Express-News, "Dispute over human remains at the Alamo could be headed to U.S. Supreme Court," 22 Mar. 2021 The pledge falls short of the $1 billion that descendant leaders had called on the Jesuits to raise. New York Times, "Catholic Order Pledges $100 Million to Atone for Slave Labor and Sales," 15 Mar. 2021 In some of his papers, Linde represents his eternal chaotic inflation model as a thick hedge of branching bulbs, each bulb a separate universe, connected to ancestor bulbs and descendant bulbs by thin tubes. Alan Lightman, The Atlantic, "‘It Seems That I Know How the Universe Originated’," 8 Feb. 2021 Reaching for disco—and its descendant rave-inspiring subgenres—may appear to be a safe bet for a sonic reset. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "How Disco Defined 2020," 23 Dec. 2020 In 2009, facing an investigation over discrimination, organizers signed an agreement with public prosecutors requiring 10% of models to be Black, Afro-descendant or Indigenous. David Biller And Mauricio Savarese, Star Tribune, "Fashion-forward: Affirmative action hits Brazil's runways," 8 Nov. 2020 The measure would provide federal recognition for these locations and help collect information on them, which would be useful for descendant communities and developers alike. Popular Science, "In Louisiana’s ‘Cancer Alley,’ a Black community battles an industry that threatens its health—and history," 17 Nov. 2020 Giana Han reports Auburn University this week sent out a statement asking fans not to wrap the two Auburn Oaks and 10 descendant trees at Toomer’s Corner in toilet paper this season. Ben Flanagan |, al, "Auburn football fan guide for 2020 home game against LSU," 30 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Applicants must have been Black residents between 1919 and 1969 or a direct descendant. Clarence Page,, "Column: The complicated road to slavery reparations — and the need for an apology," 27 Apr. 2021 The professionals would also work with citizen monitors that included J. Kavin Ross, a local journalist and the son of former state representative Don Ross, and Brenda Alford, a lifelong Tulsa resident and prominent local descendant of survivors. Smithsonian Magazine, "The Burning: The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921," 17 Mar. 2021 Hicks-Gilbert, of Elaine, Ark., is a descendant of survivors of the 1919 Elaine massacre, one of many episodes of racial violence against African Americans in the early 20th century., "State efforts to pay reparations to descendants of slaves stall at state level amid cries for federal action," 25 Apr. 2021 Linda Khachek, a 37-year-old Goleta resident who is the descendant of survivors, agrees that there’s something comforting about the prospect of naming the horrors. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, "Armenians spent their lives demanding U.S. recognition of genocide. Victory is here," 24 Apr. 2021 Kirigan is the descendant of the Black Heretic, an ancient Shadow Summoner who grew hungry for power and rebelled against King Anastas. Nick Schager,, "Shadow and Bone binge-watch recap: Episodes 1-8," 23 Apr. 2021 Her father worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and her mother was said to be a descendant of Richard Stockton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Hilton Als, The New Yorker, "Alice Neel’s Portraits of Difference," 19 Apr. 2021 The images are familiar and deeply poignant, but a woman who claims to be the descendant of the two individuals named Renty and Delia are not entitled to the images, a Massachusetts judge has ruled. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Historically Black leadership," 5 Mar. 2021 James Fisher, an eighth-generation descendant of Pointer, told the council in September that Pointer earned money to buy his freedom in party by working for George Washington, the first president. Julie Zauzmer, Washington Post, "Should D.C. honor the terms of an Indian treaty that has been ignored for 300 years?," 1 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'descendant.' 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 descendant


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1569, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for descendant


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


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

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Time Traveler for descendant

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

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Statistics for descendant

Last Updated

13 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Descendant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for descendant



English Language Learners Definition of descendant

: someone who is related to a person or group of people who lived in the past
: a plant or animal that is related to a particular plant or animal that lived long ago
: something that developed from another thing that was made or existed earlier


de·​scen·​dant | \ di-ˈsen-dənt How to pronounce descendant (audio) \

Kids Definition of descendant

1 : someone related to a person or group of people who lived at an earlier time
2 : a thing that comes from something that existed at an earlier time


variants: also descendent \ di-​ˈsen-​dənt \

Legal Definition of descendant

: a blood relative of a later generation

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