hereditary

adjective
he·​red·​i·​tary | \ hə-ˈre-də-ˌter-ē How to pronounce hereditary (audio) \

Definition of hereditary

1a biology : genetically transmitted or transmittable from parent to offspring The disease is hereditary.
b : characteristic of or fostered by one's predecessors a hereditary feud
2a : received or passing by inheritance or required to pass by inheritance or by reason of birth hereditary wealth
b : having title (see title entry 1 sense 4a) or possession through inheritance or by reason of birth hereditary nobility
3 : of a kind established by tradition hereditary enemies
4 : of or relating to inheritance or heredity unless he had the hereditary dispositions which he has, he would not behave the way he does— Arthur Pap

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Other Words from hereditary

hereditarily \ hə-​ˌre-​də-​ˈter-​ə-​lē How to pronounce hereditarily (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for hereditary

Synonyms

genetic (also genetical), heritable, inborn, inheritable, inherited

Antonyms

nonhereditary

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Choose the Right Synonym for hereditary

innate, inborn, inbred, congenital, hereditary mean not acquired after birth. innate applies to qualities or characteristics that are part of one's inner essential nature. an innate sense of fair play inborn suggests a quality or tendency either actually present at birth or so marked and deep-seated as to seem so. her inborn love of nature inbred suggests something either acquired from parents by heredity or so deeply rooted and ingrained as to seem acquired in that way. inbred political loyalties congenital and hereditary refer to what is acquired before or at birth, the former to things acquired during fetal development and the latter to things transmitted from one's ancestors. a congenital heart murmur eye color is hereditary

Examples of hereditary in a Sentence

He suffers from a rare hereditary condition. eye and hair color are hereditary

Recent Examples on the Web

Androgenetic alopecia is the medical term for hereditary hair loss. Beth Wood, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Patchy success for most baldness treatments," 26 Aug. 2019 This set up slavery as a permanent, hereditary condition. National Geographic, "400 years ago, enslaved Africans first arrived in Virginia," 13 Aug. 2019 Cancer doctors generally only order it for people who have a strong family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer (which is also affected by the genes), since that pedigree suggests a possible genetic, hereditary factor in their cancer risk. Alice Park, Time, "You Can Now Order an At-Home Genetic Test for Breast Cancer. But Should You?," 7 Mar. 2018 The former, like religion, ethnicity, and hereditary conditions, may be passed on from generation to generation. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "Coming Out, and Rising Up, in the Fifty Years After Stonewall," 28 June 2019 High blood pressure can be caused by hereditary factors, too much sodium, excess weight and other factors. Betsy Mckay, WSJ, "Heart Attack at 49—America’s Biggest Killer Makes a Deadly Comeback," 21 June 2019 The researchers’ findings suggest that just under half of breed behavioral differences can be attributed to hereditary factors. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Your Cat’s Attitude Actually Is Closely Linked to Its Breed, Survey Shows," 19 June 2019 Hereditary chiefs advise parliament, rather like hereditary lords do in Britain. The Economist, "Botswana legalises gay sex," 15 June 2019 The theory is supported by Juana's maternal grandmother, Isabella of Portugal, who apparently suffered from her own psychological issues, including paranoia, which could indicate a hereditary factor. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "What Was Catherine of Aragon's Sister, Juana la Loca, Really Like?," 10 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hereditary.' 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 hereditary

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hereditary

Middle English hereditarie, borrowed from Latin hērēditārius "of inheritance, passed by means of inheritance," from hērēdit- (probably extracted from hērēditāt-, hērēditās "succession to an heir, inheritance," taken as hērēdit- + -āt-, -ās) + -ārius -ary entry 2

Note: See note at heritage.

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Statistics for hereditary

Last Updated

4 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hereditary

The first known use of hereditary was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for hereditary

hereditary

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of hereditary

: passed or able to be passed from parent to child before birth
: passing from a person who has died to that person's child or younger relative
: holding a position or title that was passed on from your parent or an older relative

hereditary

adjective
he·​red·​i·​tary | \ hə-ˈre-də-ˌter-ē How to pronounce hereditary (audio) \

Kids Definition of hereditary

1 : capable of being passed from parent to offspring hereditary disease
2 : received or passing from an ancestor to an heir

hereditary

adjective
he·​red·​i·​tary | \ hə-ˈred-ə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce hereditary (audio) \

Medical Definition of hereditary

1 : genetically transmitted or transmittable from parent to offspring — compare acquired sense 1, congenital sense 2, familial
2 : of or relating to inheritance or heredity

Other Words from hereditary

hereditarily \ -​ˌred-​ə-​ˈter-​ə-​lē How to pronounce hereditarily (audio) \ adverb

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hereditary

adjective
he·​red·​i·​tary | \ hə-ˈre-də-ˌter-ē How to pronounce hereditary (audio) \

Legal Definition of hereditary

1 : received or passing by inheritance or required to pass by inheritance hereditary shares
2 : having ownership or possession through inheritance

History and Etymology for hereditary

Latin hereditarius, from hereditas inheritance, from hered-, heres heir

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