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

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 Divided by class and upbringing, yet remarkably similar in their tastes and proclivities, the brothers were like a case study in heredity versus environment. J.r. Jones, Chicago Reader, "Triplets ripped from family in a Nazi-like experiment, probed in Three Identical Strangers," 5 July 2018 The filmmakers’ sensible conclusion is that identity is the result of a complicated competition between heredity and environment, and that trying to fix the outcome is naïve arrogance at best and cruelty at worst. Ty Burr,, "When triplets are separated — then reunited," 4 July 2018 Critics scoff at this as being misleading at best, as generally peerage titles are conferred by heredity or by the monarchy. Robert Mccoppin,, "Want to be a Scottish lord or lady? Opportunity beckons at suburban festival, where 'titles' will be sold," 16 June 2018 How does this sharing affect our current conception of heredity? Jennifer Raff, New York Times, "In an Age of Gene Editing and Surrogacy, What Does Heredity Mean?," 31 May 2018 Our interest in heredity is testament to a deep human concern with generations past, and those yet to come. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "If only we had a Congress," 19 June 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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The first known use of heredity was circa 1540

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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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Comments on heredity

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a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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