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

Andrews, a third-generation Hong Konger of Indian descent and the first ethnic minority social worker in the city, runs a center for refugees and asylum seekers on the 17th floor. Los Angeles Times, "As China pushes in, Hong Kong’s first ethnic minority social worker wants a future for everyone," 23 Aug. 2019 Malian descent and a vision in her hijab, and model and actress Leyna Bloom, the first transgender woman of color to star in a film premiering at the Cannes Film Festival. Moana Luu, Essence, "#MoAnaManifesto: Introducing The New ESSENCE," 6 Aug. 2019 Mawae, who was presented by his wife, Tracy, is the first player of Hawaiian descent and the second Polynesian member of the hall, following the late Junior Seau. Barry Wilner, Houston Chronicle, "Reed, Law, Mawae, Bowlen, Brandt, Robinson enter Hall of Fame," 3 Aug. 2019 Neil Estern’s mother was of Austrian descent and born in the United States. Sam Roberts, BostonGlobe.com, "Neil Estern, sculptor of monumental public works, 93," 31 July 2019 Neil Estern’s mother was of Austrian descent and born in the United States. Sam Roberts, New York Times, "Neil Estern, Sculptor of Monumental Public Works, Dies at 93," 30 July 2019 Ocasio-Cortez, who is from New York, is of Hispanic descent, and Tlaib, whose parents are Palestinian, was born in Detroit. NBC News, "After House rejects 'stupid' impeachment, Trump fuels rally crowd chant of 'send her back!' at Omar," 18 July 2019 In the first year, eight aircraft could carry out 4,000 five-hour flights (four spent in ascent and descent and one in the stratosphere). The Economist, "Reaching for the sunshade: July 2030," 4 July 2019 Aldrin called out the rate of descent and the lateral motion. The Washington Post, al.com, "How did NASA put men on the moon? One harrowing step at a time," 19 June 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

9 Sep 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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