descend

verb
de·​scend | \ di-ˈsend How to pronounce descend (audio) , dē-\
descended; descending; descends

Definition of descend

intransitive verb

1 : to pass from a higher place or level to a lower one descended from the platform
2 : to pass in discussion from what is logically prior or more comprehensive descends from the general to the specific
3a : to originate or come from an ancestral stock or source : derive descends from an old merchant family
b : to pass by inheritance a desk that has descended in the family
c : to pass by transmission songs descended from old ballads
4a : to incline, lead, or extend downward the road descends to the river
b physiology : to conduct nerve impulses away from the brain … lesions that interrupt the descending pathways from the cortex or brain stem produce weakness in voluntary movements …— Claude Ghez and John Krakauer
5a : to swoop or pounce down (as in a sudden attack) a hawk descending upon its prey
b : to appear suddenly and often disconcertingly as if from above reporters descended on the candidate
6 : to proceed in a sequence or gradation from higher to lower or from more remote to nearer or more recent Their scores were listed in descending order.
7a : to lower oneself in status or dignity : stoop
b : to worsen and sink in condition or estimation He descended into a deep depression. descended to poverty descend into chaos
c : to pass from higher to lower musical notes The harmony descends chromatically.

transitive verb

1 : to pass, move, or climb down or down along descending the staircase
2 : to extend down along a narrow scar descended her arm

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from descend

descendible \ di-​ˈsen-​də-​bəl How to pronounce descendible (audio) , dē-​ \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for descend

Synonyms

decline, dip, drop, fall, plunge, sink

Antonyms

arise, ascend, climb, mount, rise, uprise, upsweep, upturn

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of descend in a Sentence

Wait for the elevator to descend. The workers descended into the hole. A herd of goats descended into the valley. The airplane will descend to a lower altitude soon. Descending the mountain was even more dangerous than climbing it. The children descended the staircase silently. The path descends to the river. The stairs descended into the tunnel.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The officers, who also included probation and parole officers, formed 19 groups, including four SWAT teams, and descended on 30 locations in the early-morning fog. Christine Dempsey, courant.com, "Twenty-one arrests during Hartford area roundup," 13 Sep. 2019 Officials in two counties prepared earlier to declare emergencies, unsure how many people might descend on rural Nevada. oregonlive, "‘Storm Area 51’ creator pulls out of his own event, calling it Fyre Festival 2.0," 11 Sep. 2019 Officers with guns drawn descended on a house at Willowgate Dr. and Meridian Ave. Steve Rubenstein, SFChronicle.com, "San Jose police break up burglary ring, arrest 10 suspects," 31 Aug. 2019 The draft’s main stage was positioned on Broadway, right in the heart of downtown, and a record-breaking 600,000 people descended on the city for the event, generating $132.8 million in direct visitor spending. The Mmqb Staff, SI.com, "Favorite Storylines of the 2019 NFL Offseason," 30 Aug. 2019 In contrast to previous years, the advisory has nothing to do with wildfire smoke descending on the city and surrounding suburbs. oregonlive.com, "High heat, stagnant air prompt smog warning for Portland-Vancouver area," 28 Aug. 2019 Inspired by her own recent Christmas catastrophe, Kelly Rowland plays Jacquie — a successful, super-together single tech entrepreneur whose messy family descends on her gleaming new dream home for the holidays. Dan Snierson, EW.com, "Here's when all 28 new Lifetime Christmas movies will air," 22 Aug. 2019 Iowans treasure the national attention that shines on them every four years when presidential candidates descend on the state, whose caucuses mark the beginning of an election year. Michelle L. Price, The Denver Post, "Too many candidates: Some Iowans tired of massive 2020 Democratic field," 9 Aug. 2019 But anyone who’s been dealing with the swarm of insects descending on Las Vegas over the last week can guess the culprit. Hannah Knowles, BostonGlobe.com, "That’s not a storm over Las Vegas; it’s a grasshopper invasion," 30 July 2019

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 3b

History and Etymology for descend

Middle English, from Anglo-French descendre, from Latin descendere, from de- + scandere to climb — more at scan

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about descend

Statistics for descend

Last Updated

19 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for descend

The first known use of descend was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for descend

descend

verb

English Language Learners Definition of descend

formal
: to go down : to go or move from a higher to a lower place or level
: to slope or lead downward
: to go or change to a worse state or condition

descend

verb
de·​scend | \ di-ˈsend How to pronounce descend (audio) \
descended; descending

Kids Definition of descend

1 : to come or go down from a higher place or level to a lower one The elevator descended.
2 : to move down or down along Descending the cliff was dangerous.
3 : to slope or lead downward The road descends to the valley.
4 : to come down from an earlier time The custom descends from ancient times.
5 : to come down from a source or ancestor : derive Many words descend from Latin.
6 : to be handed down to an heir
7 : to arrive from or as if from the sky Locusts descended on the crops. Holiday shoppers descended on the mall.
8 : to sink in dignity or respectability : stoop I never thought they would descend to cheating.
9 : to sink to a worse condition The classroom descended into chaos.
de·​scend | \ di-ˈsend How to pronounce descend (audio) \

Medical Definition of descend

: to pass from a higher place or level to a lower one normally the testicle descends into the scrotum between the seventh and ninth month in uteroTherapeutic Notes

Keep scrolling for more

de·​scend | \ di-ˈsend How to pronounce descend (audio) \

Legal Definition of descend

: to pass by inheritance

Other Words from descend

descendibility \ -​ˌsen-​də-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
descendible \ -​ˈsen-​də-​bəl How to pronounce descendible (audio) \ adjective

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on descend

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with descend

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for descend

Spanish Central: Translation of descend

Nglish: Translation of descend for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of descend for Arabic Speakers

Comments on descend

What made you want to look up descend? 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"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!