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

Antonyms

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 senator responsible for the proposal, Katrin Lompscher from Die Linke, the party descended from East Germany’s ruling political force, was born in 1962, a year after the Berlin Wall went up. Leonid Bershidsky, Twin Cities, "Leonid Bershidsky: Berlin’s rent cap is a case of communist amnesia," 13 Sep. 2019 Nearly 30 food trucks will descend upon one Indianapolis location asking you the customer to decide which food truck receives the bragging rights of Best Central Indiana Food Truck. Chris Sims, Indianapolis Star, "Help pick Indianapolis' best food truck at Central Indiana Food Truck Battle 2019," 13 Sep. 2019 The city’s year of hatred began in January with a ride-share that descended into racist violence. Washington Post, "In 2018, they all became victims of a record-setting year of hatred in D.C.," 21 Aug. 2019 The setting, under a calm pink sunset that descended on palm trees around the venue, was far from the heartbreak in Kabul. New York Times, "Violence in Afghanistan Worsens as U.S.-Taliban Peace Talks Plod On," 7 Aug. 2019 Some answers could come from the hordes of federal and state law enforcement officials that descended on Dayton immediately after the shooting took place. Alan Gomez, USA TODAY, "After weekend of horror, Dayton residents left with one question on shooting: Why?," 5 Aug. 2019 What did not arrive was the caravan of TV trucks and reporters that so often descend on schools when such scenes play out in whiter, wealthier neighborhoods. John Woodrow Cox, The Seattle Times, "Numerous school lockdowns are traumatizing the nation’s children," 26 Dec. 2018 The final dive, to the bottom of Molloy Hole, marked the first time a human has descended to the spot. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "American Becomes First to Visit the Five Deepest Spots in World’s Oceans," 10 Sep. 2019 Toro Peak, at 8,716 feet, is the crown of this mountain chain that includes Santa Rosa Peak to the west along with Rabbit and Villager peaks descending to the desert in the east. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Sit-and-see adventure at Santa Rosa Mountains," 7 Sep. 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

31 Oct 2019

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
How to pronounce descend (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for descend

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

a calculated move

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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!