descendant

adjective
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

descendant

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for descendant

Synonyms: Adjective

bowed, bowing, declined, declining, descending, drooping, droopy, hanging, hung, inclining, nodding, pendulous, sagging, stooping, weeping

Antonyms: Adjective

unbending, upright

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Race was invented by European colonists to provide an excuse for the systematic oppression of African-descendant people. Kelley Fanto Deetz, The Conversation, "Setting the historical record straight for the critics of The New York Times project on slavery in America," 23 Aug. 2019 The school hopes to draw in the descendant community in several ways. Susan Svrluga, Washington Post, "College of William & Mary to explore the legacies of slavery and racism," 31 July 2019 Harvard’s Peabody Museum holds the images and has gone to great lengths to develop practices that engage descendant communities and others who may have an interest in its some of its sensitive collections. Deirdre Fernandes, BostonGlobe.com, "Agassiz descendants put pressure on Harvard to give up slave photos," 19 June 2019 American Jewry is also dominated by a European-descendant establishment, despite a significant and growing population of Jews of color who can have real problems feeling accepted in the community. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "Julia Salazar, the socialist politician accused of lying about her past, explained," 7 Sep. 2018 Today, local representatives from descendant communities visit the site twice a year and help guide the research. Jon Hurdle, New York Times, "Ruined ‘Apartments’ May Hold Clues to Native American History," 4 Sep. 2017 The group was made up of friends of Ariana Rockefeller, the descendant grand-niece of the property's founder. Avril Graham, Harper's BAZAAR, "Just Back From...A Long Weekend in Puerto Rico," 8 May 2017 A descendant sapling from a tree planted by children who were killed during the Holocaust was planted at Niles West High School Thursday, April 27, in honor of Arbor Day. Mike Isaacs, chicagotribune.com, "Arbor Day: Sapling from tree grown during Holocaust planted at Niles West," 28 Apr. 2017 Protesters also poured into the streets of several cities in Chocó, the blackest department (comparable to a U.S. state), with an 80 percent African-descendant population. Lori S. Robinson, The Root, "Fighting for Black Lives in Colombia: At War’s End, the Search for a Seat at the Table," 3 July 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

As some descendants watered the tree, others read all 272 names, one by one. Adam Harris, The Atlantic, "The Fine Line Campus Tour Guides Walk—Backwards," 29 Aug. 2019 Anthony and Isabella came from the powerful Ndongo kingdom, whose descendants still lived in the Angolan interior near the Lukala and Kwanza rivers. USA Today, "Were Wanda Tucker’s ancestors America’s first slaves? A difficult search for answers in far-away Angola," 22 Aug. 2019 And in mice, researchers including Skinner found that parents exposed to altered diets, low temperatures, or toxins had descendants with behavioral changes and weight gain. Andrew Curry, Science | AAAS, "Parents’ emotional trauma may change their children’s biology. Studies in mice show how," 18 July 2019 Edison’s descendants have been vocal, though, in their desire for technological change. Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY, "Thomas Edison's great-grandson: Stop using incandescent lightbulbs," 6 June 2019 Other descendants of presidents, in town for a summit organized by the White House Historical Association, and board members of the organization, also attended the brief ceremonial planting under a blistering late-August sun. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "Melania Trump joins presidential descendants to plant baby Eisenhower oak at White House," 27 Aug. 2018 One descendant of Freedmen, Rodslen Brown-King, said her mother was able to vote as a Cherokee for the first and only time recently. Michael Democker, NOLA.com, "Molly's on the Market & Jim Monaghan's Parade: photo gallery," 17 Mar. 2018 Twenty years ago, the number of African descendants in Chile was small and very localized in the Azapa Valley in northern Chile. Jacqueline Charles, miamiherald, "Chile is used to welcoming migrants. But Haitians don’t always get a warm reception | Miami Herald," 1 Mar. 2018 Two years ago, in April 2017, this tree was watered by the descendants of the 272 people who had been sold to save the university. Adam Harris, The Atlantic, "The Fine Line Campus Tour Guides Walk—Backwards," 29 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of descendant

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1569, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for descendant

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about descendant

Statistics for descendant

Last Updated

6 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for descendant

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for descendant

descendant

noun

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

descendant

noun
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

descendant

noun
de·​scen·​dant
variants: also descendent \ di-​ˈsen-​dənt \

Legal Definition of descendant

: a blood relative of a later generation

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on descendant

What made you want to look up descendant? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

miscellaneous remnants or debris

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!