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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Wayne led the first genetic studies proposing the ancestor-descendant relationship between the two species and more recently was one of the 30 co-authors of the latest study, published in PLOS Genetics, that debunked that notion. Virginia Morell, Scientific American, 1 July 2015 Ultimately, the archaeologists and descendant community hope to better protect the site from amateur collectors. Matt Stirn, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 Mar. 2022 Spanish Fort resident Lum Morrison, Bill Morrison’s nephew and oldest living descendant, received the flag from his seat on the front row, nearest the coffin. J.d. Crowe |, al, 6 Mar. 2022 But repatriation also requires participation from descendant communities. Megan Gannon, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Feb. 2022 Luyu Tully is a Miwok woman whose rootlessness in the 1850s is echoed by her descendant Laila, who flees her home, an abusive relationship and a waitressing job in Northern California 170 years later. Washington Post, 21 Jan. 2022 Additionally featured to contextualize the speeches are scholars David Blight, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Sarah Lewis and Keidrick Roy, artist Bisa Butler, poet Nzadi Keita and Douglass’ descendant Ken Morris. Selome Hailu, Variety, 1 Feb. 2022 Seven decades later, that letter has been returned to a family descendant after resurfacing at a flea market in New York. Sara Smart, CNN, 27 Jan. 2022 The daughter of a free jazz saxophone player and a booking agent for afro-descendant music acts, Murray grew up in the music industry. Sarah Spellings, Vogue, 20 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun French elites, including a descendant of one of the wealthiest slaveholders in Haiti’s history, controlled Haiti’s national bank from the French capital. New York Times, 20 May 2022 Muslims believe the Arabic Quran is the direct speech of God revealed to Muhammad, son of Abdullah, a direct descendant of Ismail, the son of Abraham. Manal Aman, Woman's Day, 19 May 2022 Gillette, a descendant of Connecticut Colony founder Thomas Hooker, was born in Hartford in 1853. Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant, 17 May 2022 Carrillo was an actor and a descendant of the renowned family that is among the founders of Spanish Southern California. Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2022 Volkswagen came by the Scout moniker when its Traton truck division took control of Navistar International, the descendant of International Harvester, in 2020. Caleb Miller, Car and Driver, 11 May 2022 In this sense, Seydoux is the ideal unofficial spokeswoman for the best parts of the fest: a glamorous but hardly traditional descendant of French film royalty who has appeared in both art house and commercial hits. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 May 2022 That descendant is believed to spread faster than previous versions of the virus and caused about 29 percent of U.S. Covid cases in the latest week, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NBC News, 29 Apr. 2022 One of the seats will be filled by Sutton King, a powerful advocate for Native Americans, a descendant of Wisconsin’s Menominee and Oneida Nations, and Journey Colab’s founding Head of Impact. Louis Metzger Iv, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About descendant

Time Traveler for descendant

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near descendant




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for descendant

Last Updated

25 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Descendant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for descendant


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


Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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