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

In simple terms, our experiences and our inheritance may each share half the blame for depression. Allure, "Why Is It So Hard to Talk About Suicidal Ideation When Everything Is Going OK?," 13 Sep. 2019 Some coaches are known to distance themselves from their player inheritance. Brent Zwerneman,, "A&M QB Mond takes responsibility for mistakes against Clemson," 10 Sep. 2019 While some windfalls like a life insurance payment are generally tax-free, others, including an inheritance, could come with a significant tax bill. Bruce Helmer And Peg Webb, Twin Cities, "Your Money: How to make the most of a financial windfall," 14 July 2019 Again, Big Little Lies questions its characters’ inheritances. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Big Little Lies Exhumes the Secrets of Marriage," 1 July 2019 Relish It: An inheritance, royalty or settlement may roll in your favor this month, and right on time. Sonja Marie, Essence, "Cancer, It's Time To Feel The Love! Here Are July 2019 Horoscopes For All," 1 July 2019 In this case, the furniture not only evokes the bodies of mother and daughter, but the inheritance passed from one to the other. Sharon Mizota, Los Angeles Times, "A love letter to mom in 72 photos: Artist Susan Mogul’s latest, now on view," 20 Aug. 2019 While in the hospital, Southwick King presented him with legal documents that would affect the inheritance of their two adult sons and give her certain rights to their property, sources told TMZ. Cicero Estrella, The Mercury News, "Larry King headed for eighth divorce," 20 Aug. 2019 Darlington researched the ways that chromosomes influenced heredity, which eventually grew into an interest in eugenics, particularly the role of race in the inheritance of intelligence. Leila Mcneill, Smithsonian, "The Pioneering Female Botanist Who Sweetened a Nation and Saved a Valley," 1 Aug. 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

17 Sep 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

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


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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