de·​scen·​dant | \di-ˈsen-dənt \
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

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

Antonyms: Adjective

unbending, upright

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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


the descendant branches of a weeping willow


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

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,, "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

Any descendants of the Queen born after 1960, other than those with a royal title, has the last name Mountbatten-Windsor. Amanda Mitchell, Marie Claire, "What Will Prince Harry and Meghan's Baby's Surname Be? A Complete Surprise, Possibly," 23 Oct. 2018 When Susan's 14th-generation descendant Willow was put to sleep last spring, her line was over. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Queen Elizabeth's Corgis Are Finally Getting the Movie They Deserve," 18 Oct. 2018 Raney is a descendant of William Turpin, who was the son of Mary Jefferson, President Thomas Jefferson's aunt. Marina Pitofsky, USA TODAY, "Maryland DAR names first black officer," 10 July 2018 Preaching black supremacist ideas and mystical Islam, the ex-con and street peddler also claimed to be a descendant of the prophet Mohammed and a member of the Sudanese royal family. Christine Pelisek,, "The Story Behind a Black Supremacist Cult That Lived in Egyptian-Themed Compound in Rural Georgia," 6 July 2018 The 509th is the direct descendant of a bomber group formed in 1944 for the purpose of dropping nuclear weapons on Japan. William Langewiesche, The Atlantic, "An Extraordinarily Expensive Way to Fight ISIS," 21 June 2018 John was a 10th generation descendant of Thomas Hooker, founder of Hartford and the inspiration for the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. Hartford Courant,, "John deM. Hooker," 8 June 2018 Thomas, who also works as a real estate developer, is an eighth-generation descendant of the French Huguenots who came to Charles Town in 1686. Karen Mizoguchi,, "From Federal Prison to Southern Charm: Thomas Ravenel's Ups and Downs," 3 May 2018 Eduardo Ranz, the lawyer for Manuel and Antonio Lapena’s descendants, says that relatives of Pedro Gil and Juan Gonzalez, two soldiers who died fighting for Franco’s national army, have also requested their remains be removed. Aritz Parra, The Seattle Times, "Spain resumes controversial exhumations near Franco’s tomb," 23 Apr. 2018

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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Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

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

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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 \

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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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).


by force of circumstances

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