descent

noun
de·​scent | \ di-ˈsent How to pronounce descent (audio) \

Definition of descent

1a : derivation from an ancestor : birth, lineage of French descent patrilineal descent
b : transmission or devolution of an estate (see estate entry 1 sense 4b) by inheritance usually in the descending line
c : the fact or process of originating from an ancestral stock the descent of modern humans and chimpanzees from a common ancestor
d : 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 : the act or process of descending from a higher to a lower level, rank, or state begin our descent down the mountain
3 : a step downward in a scale of gradation specifically : one generation in an ancestral line or genealogical scale His pedigree shows eleven descents.
4a : an inclination downward : slope a nearly perpendicular descent
b : a way (such as a downgrade or stairway) that descends or leads downward
c obsolete : the lowest part from the extremest upward of thy head to the descent and dust below thy foot— Shakespeare
5a : attack, invasion descent of the locusts
b : a sudden disconcerting appearance (as for a visit) unprepared for the descent of her in-laws
6 : a downward step (as in station or value) : decline the descent of the family into poverty

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Synonyms & Antonyms for descent

Synonyms

dip, dive, down, drop, fall, nosedive, plunge

Antonyms

ascent, climb, rise, rising, soaring, upswing, upturn

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Examples of descent in a Sentence

The book describes his descent into a deep depression after the death of his wife. her slow descent to a life of addiction The only path that goes down to the river is a rather steep descent, so be careful.
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Recent Examples on the Web

And that brings us to Season 8 and Daenerys' real descent into Mad Queen territory. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Every Clue That Daenerys Targaryen Was Always Destined to Become the Mad Queen in 'Game of Thrones'," 13 May 2019 This descent into hell (played here by the Paris catacombs) is visually mesmerizing, which makes this movie worth your time even if the scares can be a bit inert and the drama a bit hackneyed. Dylan Scott, Vox, "13 found-footage horror movies actually worth watching this Halloween," 19 Oct. 2018 The canyon itself makes for a relatively chill, enjoyable cruise, but a spider web of connector routes—both fire roads and single-track trails— provides opportunities for steep climbs and rocky descents with a side of knockout scenery. Shawnté Salabert, Los Angeles Magazine, "From Archery to Mountain Biking, There’s an L.A. Park for Every Outdoor Hobby," 7 June 2018 Aaliyah is an engaging 3-year-old girl of Caucasian/Guyanese descent. BostonGlobe.com, "Aaliyah, 3, loves dancing to music," 7 July 2018 The children, who came from an orphanage in New York, were mostly blond and blue-eyed, while the Catholic families they were placed with were predominantly of Mexican Indian descent. John D'anna, azcentral, "Think child separations are unprecedented? Here are 3 heartbreaking examples from history," 21 June 2018 This and other similar conditions predominate among male children of Irish and English descent. Longreads, "Fairy Scapegoats: A History of the Persecution of Changeling Children," 9 June 2018 Michigan has the highest concentration of residents of Middle Eastern descent, according to the U.S. Census. Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, "National Security Council official denounces Michigan's Muslims," 4 June 2018 The fresh-faced group will include a record number of women elected in the 2018 midterm elections, and their descent on the capital has revived the excitement felt on election night. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the Next Generation of Congresswomen Takes Office," 3 Jan. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of descent

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for descent

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

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Statistics for descent

Last Updated

20 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for descent

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

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More Definitions for descent

descent

noun

English Language Learners Definition of descent

formal
: the act or process of going from a higher to a lower place or level
: the act or process or changing to a worse state or condition
: a way of going down something : a downward slope, path, etc.

descent

noun
de·​scent | \ di-ˈsent How to pronounce descent (audio) \

Kids Definition of descent

1 : an act of coming or going down in location or condition The plane began its descent.
2 : a downward slope a steep descent
3 : a person's ancestors She is of Korean descent.

descent

noun
de·​scent | \ di-ˈsent How to pronounce descent (audio) \

Medical Definition of descent

1 : the act or process of descending from a higher to a lower location descent of the testes into the scrotum
2a : derivation from an ancestor
b : the fact or process of originating by generation from an ancestral stock (as a species or genus)
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

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descent

noun
de·​scent

Legal Definition of descent

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

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Comments on descent

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