he·​red·​i·​ty | \ hə-ˈre-də-tē How to pronounce heredity (audio) \

Definition of heredity

2a : the sum of the characteristics and potentialities genetically derived from one's ancestors
b : the transmission of such qualities from ancestor to descendant through the genes

Examples of heredity in a Sentence

Heredity plays no part in the disease.
Recent Examples on the Web Mendel worked out the first set of rules of heredity. The Economist, "Modern genetics will improve health and usher in “designer” children," 7 Nov. 2019 Of the different causes of hair loss, heredity is the most common culprit. Beth Wood, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Patchy success for most baldness treatments," 26 Aug. 2019 Darlington researched the ways that chromosomes influenced heredity, which eventually grew into an interest in eugenics, particularly the role of race in the inheritance of intelligence. Leila Mcneill, Smithsonian, "The Pioneering Female Botanist Who Sweetened a Nation and Saved a Valley," 1 Aug. 2019 This would be kind of heredity that’s beyond genes. Quanta Magazine, "Scientists Seek to Update Evolution," 22 Nov. 2016 In Mountcashel’s time, the popular understanding of heredity didn’t extend much beyond the theory that men planted seeds in the wombs of women, where they were nurtured. Tim Flannery, The New York Review of Books, "Our Twisted DNA," 7 Mar. 2019 Even Riverdale's creator has teased the significance of the twins' heredity on Twitter. Hanna Lustig, Teen Vogue, "The Best "Riverdale" Season 3 Fan Theories, According to Reddit," 1 Oct. 2018 Zimmer does a deep dive into the question of heredity, exploring everything from how genetic ancestry works to the thorny question of how race is defined, biologically. New York Times, "9 New Books We Recommend This Week," 21 June 2018 At the dawn of the 20th century, scientists came to limit the word heredity to genes. Jennifer Raff, New York Times, "In an Age of Gene Editing and Surrogacy, What Does Heredity Mean?," 31 May 2018

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

circa 1540, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for heredity

borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French heredité, borrowed from Latin hērēditāt-, hērēditās "inheritance," from hērēd-, hērēs heir entry 1 + -itāt-, -itās -ity

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Statistics for heredity

Last Updated

14 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for heredity

The first known use of heredity was circa 1540

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More Definitions for heredity


How to pronounce heredity (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of heredity

formal : the natural process by which physical and mental qualities are passed from a parent to a child


he·​red·​i·​ty | \ hə-ˈre-də-tē How to pronounce heredity (audio) \
plural heredities

Kids Definition of heredity

: the passing on of characteristics (as the color of the eyes or hair) from parents to offspring


he·​red·​i·​ty | \ hə-ˈred-ət-ē How to pronounce heredity (audio) \
plural heredities

Medical Definition of heredity

1 : the sum of the qualities and potentialities genetically derived from one's ancestors
2 : the transmission of traits from ancestor to descendant through the molecular mechanism lying primarily in the DNA or RNA of the genes — compare meiosis

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