descent

play
noun de·scent \di-ˈsent\

Definition of descent

  1. 1a :  derivation from an ancestor :  birth, lineage of French descent patrilineal descentb :  transmission or devolution of an estate (see 1estate 4b) by inheritance usually in the descending linec :  the fact or process of originating from an ancestral stock the descent of modern humans and chimpanzees from a common ancestord :  the shaping or development in nature and character by transmission from a source :  derivation … could trace a faint but sure descent from Roman law. — R. W. Southern

  2. 2 :  the act or process of descending from a higher to a lower level, rank, or state begin our descent down the mountain

  3. 3 :  a step downward in a scale of gradation; specifically :  one generation in an ancestral line or genealogical scale His pedigree shows eleven descents.

  4. 4a :  an inclination downward :  slope a nearly perpendicular descentb :  a way (such as a downgrade or stairway) that descends or leads downwardc obsolete :  the lowest part from the extremest upward of thy head to the descent and dust below thy foot — Shakespeare

  5. 5a :  attack, invasion descent of the locustsb :  a sudden disconcerting appearance (as for a visit) unprepared for the descent of her in-laws

  6. 6 :  a downward step (as in station or value) :  decline the descent of the family into poverty

Examples of descent in a Sentence

  1. The book describes his descent into a deep depression after the death of his wife.

  2. her slow descent to a life of addiction

  3. The only path that goes down to the river is a rather steep descent, so be careful.

Recent Examples of descent from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'descent'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of descent

Middle English, from Anglo-French descente, from Anglo-French descendre —see descend



DESCENT Defined for Kids

descent

play
noun de·scent \di-ˈsent\

Definition of descent for Students

  1. 1 :  an act of coming or going down in location or condition The plane began its descent.

  2. 2 :  a downward slope a steep descent

  3. 3 :  a person's ancestors She is of Korean descent.


Medical Dictionary

descent

play
noun de·scent \di-ˈsent\

Medical Definition of descent

  1. 1:  the act or process of descending from a higher to a lower location descent of the testes into the scrotum

  2. 2a:  derivation from an ancestorb:  the fact or process of originating by generation from an ancestral stock (as a species or genus)

  3. 3:  a former method of distillation in which the material was heated in a vessel having its outlet underneath so that the vapors produced were forced to descend


Law Dictionary

descent

noun de·scent

Legal Definition of descent

  1. :  transmission or devolution of the estate of a person who has died without a valid will — compare distribution



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up descent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

marked by lack of plan or order

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Emoji Quiz

  • emoji-the-quiz
  • What phase of the moon is this: 🌖 ?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

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!