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

Wind gusts could send the spacecraft into a dangerous tumble during descent, or the parachute could get tangled. Marcia Dunn, The Seattle Times, "Mars revisited: NASA spacecraft days away from risky landing," 21 Nov. 2018 Avoid all this by staying awake and making sure your ears have popped (especially during descent, when the altitude change is more painful). Brian Sumers, Condé Nast Traveler, "How to Pop Your Ears on a Plane—And Why They Pop, Anyway," 10 Sep. 2018 Many noted that the Batwoman character—whose real name is Kate Kane—was actually reintroduced into the DC Comics world as being of Jewish descent, which Rose is not. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "Ruby Rose Quit Twitter After Getting Bullied About Her Batwoman Casting," 12 Aug. 2018 In that 1975 case, a U.S. citizen of Puerto Rican descent was stopped by Border Patrol agents. Kavitha Surana, Philly.com, "How immigration officers can get away with racial profiling," 8 June 2018 Both men, of Puerto Rican and Colombian descent respectively, add complementary dynamism to the track, the most Latin-influenced of the triumphant Invasion of Privacy. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Cardi B’s ‘I Like It’ Is the Song of the Summer," 29 May 2018 Soto, D-Kissimmee, 40, the first Florida congressman of Puerto Rican descent, is also counting on strong support from the Puerto Rican community. Steven Lemongello, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Soto, Grayson battle for Puerto Rican, progressive votes in Democratic primary," 25 May 2018 The self-taught, self-reliant chef of Puerto Rican descent has already harvested basketfuls of other produce—shiny heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, chiles—today. Sunset, "Throw a Summery Latin-Asian Fusion Feast," 22 Jan. 2018 The victims fit a pattern: Most were of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent and lived on the margins of Canadian society. Rob Gillies, The Seattle Times, "Canada prosecutor: Serial killer staged photos of victims," 5 Feb. 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

25 Mar 2019

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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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