in·her·i·tance | \in-ˈher-ə-tən(t)s, -ˈhe-rə-\

Definition of inheritance 

1a : the act of inheriting property

b : the reception of genetic qualities by transmission from parent to offspring

c : the acquisition of a possession, condition, or trait from past generations

2 : something that is or may be inherited

3a : tradition

b : a valuable possession that is a common heritage from nature

4 obsolete : possession

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Examples of inheritance in a Sentence

She began her own business with the inheritance she got from her grandfather. He left sizable inheritances to his children. The buildings are part of the city's architectural inheritance. the inheritance of an estate the inheritance of a genetic trait
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Recent Examples on the Web

That exception applies if your husband's parental rights were terminated by a court and that court eliminated the children's inheritance rights. Ronald Lipman, Houston Chronicle, "Husband dies with no will, leaving wife with inheritance questions," 8 June 2018 In the case of Hatijah Molla Salli, the 67-year-old woman locked in a property dispute with relatives of her deceased husband, the Greek Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that only a mufti could resolve a case relating to Muslim inheritance rights. Niki Kitsantonis, New York Times, "Greece Scraps Compulsory Shariah for Muslim Minority," 10 Jan. 2018 Large numbers of marriages would be legally nullified in a moment, imperiling everyday rights of inheritance, custody, pensions, tax status and much more. Walter Olson, WSJ, "Gay Marriage Is Here to Stay, Even With a Conservative Court," 8 July 2018 This means no more credit cards, no more allowances, no inheritance, no nothing. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "A Major Character Was Arrested During Tonight's Riverdale Finale," 16 May 2018 Carman's aunts believe that their nephew is responsible for both deaths, and that he was fueled by a potential $7 million inheritance. Don Dahler, CBS News, "Nathan Carman, man accused of killing grandfather, invokes Fifth Amendment in inheritance case," 3 Apr. 2018 The team estimated that this could lead to a mutation being transmitted to about 73% of a female mouse’s offspring, on average, instead of the usual 50% for most genes operating under the normal rules of inheritance. Ewen Callaway, Scientific American, "Controversial CRISPR “Gene Drives” Tested in Mammals for the First Time," 10 July 2018 By the same token, Muslim and Christian minorities have long given women rights to inheritance and property. The Economist, "India’s gender gap is closing in some respects, but remains vast," 15 Mar. 2018 Like with the Prius, which had been their first new car thanks to a small inheritance. David Gilbert, The New Yorker, "Fungus," 4 June 2017

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for inheritance

Middle English enheritaunce, borrowed from Anglo-French enheritance, from enheriter "to give (a person) right of inheritance, inherit" + -ance -ance

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Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for inheritance

The first known use of inheritance was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for inheritance



Financial Definition of inheritance

What It Is

An inheritance includes those assets of an estate that are bequeathed, in whole or in part, to specific heirs.

How It Works

The assets that comprise an estate are customarily transferred to individuals specified by name or relationship (e.g. "Howard Jones, III or "grandchild") in the will of the deceased. In the absence of a will, estate assets are transferred according to laws that protect the assets of the deceased (generally passing them to descendants in a specific order).  Once transferred, an inheritance is heavily taxed.

For example, Jim's estate is worth $10,000. His will specifies that his son and daughter each receive $5000. Following Jim's death, the son and daughter each receive $5000. This is their inheritance.

Why It Matters

An inheritance represents the material legacy an individual leaves behind after his deThe definition of inheritance on InvestingAnswersath. In addition to the family dynamics involved in the transfer of an inheritance, there are significant tax implications for the inheritors depending on their circumstances and on the value of assets received.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of inheritance

: money, property, etc., that is received from someone when that person dies

: something from the past that is still important or valuable

: the act of inheriting something


in·her·i·tance | \in-ˈher-ə-təns \

Kids Definition of inheritance

1 : the act of getting by legal right from a person at his or her death or through heredity

2 : something gotten by legal right from a person at his or her death

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in·her·i·tance | \in-ˈher-ət-ən(t)s \

Medical Definition of inheritance 

1 : the reception of genetic qualities by transmission from parent to offspring

2 : all of the genetic characters or qualities transmitted from parent to offspring — compare genotype sense 2, phenotype


in·her·i·tance | \in-ˈher-ə-təns \

Legal Definition of inheritance 

1 : the act of inheriting: as

a : the acquisition of real or personal property under the laws of intestacy or sometimes by will

b : the succession upon the death of an owner either by will or by operation of law to all the estate, rights, and liabilities of the decedent

2a : something that is or may be inherited

b : something to which one is entitled as heir increasing the son's potential inheritance under [the] willLesnick v. Lesnick, 577 So. 2d 856 (1991)

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Comments on inheritance

What made you want to look up inheritance? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

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