hereditary

adjective

he·​red·​i·​tary hə-ˈre-də-ˌter-ē How to pronounce hereditary (audio)
1
a
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
2
a
: 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 doesArthur Pap
hereditarily adverb
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 Genetic testing: Specialized blood tests can identify genetic or hereditary diseases that may cause nerve damage. Michael Menna, Verywell Health, 11 July 2024 Princess Anne and Captain Mark reportedly rejected the offer of hereditary titles for their children when their eldest was born in 1977, and their kids grew up to pursue private careers — Peter in sports and event management, and Zara in the horse world. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 9 July 2024 Healthcare providers break hyperkeratosis down into two types based on the underlying cause: acquired and hereditary. Mark Gurarie, Health, 5 July 2024 Both lacked the presence of the hereditary noble families that were at the ruling center of English political life. Gordon S. Wood, Washington Post, 2 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for hereditary 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hereditary.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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 — more at heredity

Note: See note at heritage.

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near hereditary

Cite this Entry

“Hereditary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hereditary. Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

hereditary

adjective
he·​red·​i·​tary hə-ˈred-ə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce hereditary (audio)
1
: genetically passed or capable of being passed from parent to offspring
hereditary traits
2
a
: received or passing by inheritance
hereditary rank
b
: having title or possession through inheritance
hereditary ruler
3
: of or relating to inheritance or heredity

Medical Definition

hereditary

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

Legal Definition

hereditary

adjective
he·​red·​i·​tary hə-ˈre-də-ˌter-ē How to pronounce hereditary (audio)
1
: received or passing by inheritance or required to pass by inheritance
hereditary shares
2
: having ownership or possession through inheritance
Etymology

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

More from Merriam-Webster on hereditary

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