Definition of descent
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 : 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 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
6 : a downward step (as in station or value) : decline the descent of the family into poverty
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.
Recent Examples of descent from the Web
Maddie’s two living relatives on her mother’s side were held at Manzanar in California during the internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II.
The Stratollite is scheduled to make its descent from space sometime on July 2.
Activists have also been alarmed by Liu Xia's gradual descent into depression after the soft-spoken poet and artist was forcibly sequestered by state security at home during her husband's imprisonment.
Chamas, 36, is of Lebanese descent but has lived for the past decade in Paraguay, which along with Brazil and Argentina form what’s known as the Tri-Border area.
But for someone with African descent, that’s a lofty task — much of the donor registry is Caucasian, and few people of color find matches quickly.
Large areas of land in Kentucky were granted to surveyors and soldiers from the Revolutionary War, many whom were of English descent and who were slaveholders.
Officials there say rhetoric denigrating Hispanics, and especially those of Mexican descent, caused the decrease.
The most diverse cultures are those of African descent.
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.
DESCENT Defined for Kids
Definition of descent for Students
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.
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 ancestorb: 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
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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