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

Synonyms & Antonyms for descendant

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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 Scientists were able to trace family lineages from ancient DNA to verify that 73-year-old Ernie LaPointe of South Dakota is Sitting Bull's great-grandson and closest living descendant. Denise Chow, NBC News, 28 Oct. 2021 Our organization’s aim is not only to tell the full histories of sites but to foster the engagement of descendant communities and others in demanding a reckoning. The New Yorker, 25 Oct. 2021 This underrepresentation behind the scenes directly impacts the way Afro-descendant communities on the archipelago are portrayed on paper. Frances Solá-santiago,, 4 Oct. 2021 By choosing the name Negras, Abadía Rexach hopes that more women feel assured in their Blackness and non-Black Puerto Ricans understand that there’s nothing derogatory about being Afro-descendant. Frances Solá-santiago,, 4 Oct. 2021 Hupa Tribe descendant and native plant educator Kat High. Jeanette Marantos, Los Angeles Times, 7 Oct. 2021 For the 51, Monge thinks analyzing their DNA could answer long-standing questions about their ancestry and descendant communities, which may include both Black and Indigenous people. Lizzie Wade, Science | AAAS, 8 July 2021 Then, Brian West shared the private ceremony in a public post on Facebook, sparking protest from people who follow the Alamo, including leaders of two descendant groups. Scott Huddleston, San Antonio Express-News, 29 June 2021 An advisory group from Montpelier’s descendant community contributed to its design. Clint Schemmer, USA TODAY, 28 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun LePointe, of South Dakota, told Reuters that the findings from the study will help him silence those who had doubted his claims as a descendant of Sitting Bull. Jason Duaine Hahn,, 28 Oct. 2021 Helms stars as Nathan Rutherford, descendant of the founder of a quirky-quaint upstate New York burg, whose heritage is his entire personality. James Poniewozik, New York Times, 5 May 2021 Chef Sean Sherman was raised in Pine Ridge, South Dakota and is a member of the Ogala Lakota tribe while Dana Thompson, the co-owner and COO, is a descendant of the Wahpeton-Sisseteon and Mdewakanton Dakota tribes. Gary Stern, Forbes, 1 Nov. 2021 Thompson is a descendant of the Wahpeton-Sisseton and Mdewakanton Dakota tribes. Nylah Burton, Vogue, 11 Oct. 2021 This apple is a descendant of Granny Smith, but slightly sweeter. Washington Post, 8 Oct. 2021 Young, who was a descendant of people who had been enslaved, taught the young author about civil rights and Christianity. Domenica Bongiovanni, The Indianapolis Star, 5 Oct. 2021 In one gripping scene, Capricorn studies Pollock’s splotches and deduces that Lee Krasner was a direct descendant of Mary Magdalene. Jiji Lee, The New Yorker, 6 Oct. 2021 The Left Party is the direct descendant of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), the Marxist-Leninist ruling party of the former East Germany. Andreas Hellmann, National Review, 23 Sep. 2021

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

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Last Updated

9 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Descendant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on descendant

Nglish: Translation of descendant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of descendant for Arabic Speakers


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