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 All this culminated in the untimely and unethical use of CRISPR by the scientist He Jiankui to edit the germline DNA of human embryos, an irresponsible and cavalier act that affected the heredity of two girls forever. Adrian Woolfson, Washington Post, "With CRISPR, humans can create their own evolutionary future," 20 Nov. 2020 The implication that plants, animals, and, by extension, people, could be shaped in any desirable way, unconstrained by heredity, fit with Marxist theory. Sean B. Carroll, The Atlantic, "The Molecular Biologist Who Exposed the Soviet Union," 6 Oct. 2020 Crispr has also become one of the most controversial developments in science because of its potential to alter human heredity. Elian Peltier, New York Times, "Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded to 2 Scientists for Work on Genome Editing," 7 Oct. 2020 Nevertheless, Lysenko retained his stranglehold on Soviet biology for another 15 years, even steadfastly refusing to accept the discovery of DNA as the basis of heredity. Sean B. Carroll, The Atlantic, "The Molecular Biologist Who Exposed the Soviet Union," 6 Oct. 2020 Some variations helped organisms survive and reproduce, and those were passed down, thanks to heredity, to the next generation. Quanta Magazine, "Scientists Seek to Update Evolution," 22 Nov. 2016 Yet the Schuylers were also behaviorists, determined to apply the ideas of the child psychologist John Broadus Watson, who had been a student of Pavlov’s and discounted the influence of heredity. Darryl Pinckney, The New York Review of Books, "Escaping Blackness," 10 Mar. 2020 In their book, Nelkin and Lindee looked back at the eugenics movement earlier in the century and saw thematic links between the 1990s obsession with genetics and those old notions of heredity. Libby Copeland, Time, "You Can Learn a Lot About Yourself From a DNA Test. Here's What Your Genes Cannot Tell You," 2 Mar. 2020 Error 0: Lady Apple relied on heredity to snare Sunday's $300,000 Sam Houston Ladies Classic, but her win got a bit upstaged by a winning prediction. Hal Lundgren, Houston Chronicle, "Lady Apple, Bodecream win big at Sam Houston Race Park," 26 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for heredity

Time Traveler

The first known use of heredity was circa 1540

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Statistics for heredity

Last Updated

3 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Heredity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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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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