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 (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.

Origin and Etymology of descent

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

First Known Use: 14th century

DESCENT Defined for Kids


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


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


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

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a brief usually trivial fact

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