in·​her·​i·​tance | \ in-ˈher-ə-tən(t)s How to pronounce inheritance (audio) , -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

Senator Bernie Sanders, another candidate for the White House, wants a higher estate (inheritance) tax on billionaires. The Economist, "Rich people’s problems," 4 July 2019 The absence of an inheritance that is substantive rattles through the generations. Mary Spencer, National Review, "What Joan Didion Saw," 29 June 2019 Fair Math Fair Math: There are legal rules for how to dispatch debts from an inheritance, including in what order the debts should be paid. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, "Ask Amy: Grief and confusion upset homesick student," 17 June 2019 Grandmother Morgan viewed her daughter’s lifestyle as decadent and was determined to preserve little Gloria’s inheritance. Elaine Woo,, "Gloria Vanderbilt, heiress, socialite and fashion entrepreneur, dies at 95," 17 June 2019 Professional athletes, inheritance recipients, divorced people. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, Indianapolis Star, "Ex-Pacer Troy Murphy living on Vegas strip helping the suddenly rich and not making a dime," 10 June 2019 Nevertheless, Vanderbilt's life, in so many ways, revolved around her family; from the inheritance and custody battles that dogged her childhood, to her tabloid-crowning marriages, to the tragedies and triumphs that followed her into motherhood. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Inside Gloria Vanderbilt's Complicated Relationships with Her Sons," 17 June 2019 People of many different metaphysical beliefs will be needed to defend that inheritance. Erasmus, The Economist, "Europe’s secularists worry about the rise of Christian-nativist populism," 11 June 2019 But instead of stirring that inheritance into a watery puree, the band’s amplifiers surged with burly grandeur. Chris Richards, Washington Post, "After a long, strange trip ... all your indie faves are jam bands now," 6 June 2019

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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Statistics for inheritance

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 How to pronounce inheritance (audio) \

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 How to pronounce inheritance (audio) \

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 How to pronounce inheritance (audio) \

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

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