Gain access to thousands of additional definitions and advanced search features—ad free! JOIN NOW
: the sum of the characteristics and potentialities genetically derived from one's ancestors
: the transmission of such qualities from ancestor to descendant through the genes
Recent Examples on the Web
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.
circa 1540, in the meaning defined at sense 1a
borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French heredité, borrowed from Latin hērēditāt-, hērēditās "inheritance," from hērēd-, hērēs heir entry 1 + -itāt-, -itās -ity
Keep scrolling for more
Resources for heredity
8 Aug 2018
Time Traveler for heredity
See more words from the same year
More Definitions for heredity
: the natural process by which physical and mental qualities are passed from a parent to a child
See the full definition for heredity in the English Language Learners Dictionary
: the passing on of characteristics (as the color of the eyes or hair) from parents to offspring
: the sum of the qualities and potentialities genetically derived from one's ancestors
: the transmission of traits from ancestor to descendant through the molecular mechanism lying primarily in the DNA or RNA of the genes — compare meiosis
More from Merriam-Webster on heredity
Spanish Central: Translation of heredity
Nglish: Translation of heredity for Spanish Speakers
Britannica English: Translation of heredity for Arabic Speakers
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about heredity
Comments on heredity
What made you want to look up heredity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
to make amends
Get Word of the Day daily email!
Musical Words Quiz
Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?
Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.
Red Cross Warns of Shelter Conditions
RIP Burt Reynolds
NYT Publishes Anonymous Piece
Kavanaugh Mentions Word in Hearing
Manafort Guilty on 8 Counts
Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!
How a folk song became a term of derision.
Sorry, not sorry
The participle made famous by Elvis
A not-so-sarcastic history
And is one way more correct than the others?
The story of an imaginary word that managed to sneak past our editors and enter the dictionary.
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
The awkward case of 'his or her'
A quiz in common time.
SCRABBLE® fans, sharpen your skills!