sci·​on ˈsī-ən How to pronounce scion (audio)
: descendant, child
especially : a descendant of a wealthy, aristocratic, or influential family
: heir sense 1
scion of a railroad empire
: a detached living portion of a plant (such as a bud or shoot) joined to a stock in grafting and usually supplying solely aerial parts to a graft

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a scion and an heir?

There is a considerable overlap between the meanings of scion and heir, as both words may be defined as "one who receives property from an ancestor" or "one who is entitled to inherit property." However, they also have subtle differences between them. While both may refer to a descendant, heir is the more appropriate choice for a child or relative who inherits something. And while one may be the heir to a family of modest or significant means, scion is often found in the sense "a descendant of a wealthy, aristocratic, or influential family."

What is the difference between a scion and a stock in horticulture?

In horticultural use scion is defined as "a detached living portion of a plant (such as a bud or shoot) joined to a stock in grafting." Stock, on the other hand, refers to such things as "the main stem of a plant," "a plant from which cuttings are taken," and "a plant or plant part united with a scion in grafting."

How do you pronounce scion?

The IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) pronunciation we give for scion is ˈsajən. For those who don’t read IPA easily another way to think of it is that scion is pronounced as if sigh & un formed a single word, with the emphasis placed on the sigh.

Examples of scion in a Sentence

He's a scion of a powerful family.
Recent Examples on the Web On Saturday, during the Foos’ headlining slot at the Welcome to Rockville Festival at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, Grohl did it again with an assist from a famous rock scion. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 13 May 2024 But the Kennedy scion isn't the only presidential candidate facing questions about cognition. Fox News Staff, Fox News, 8 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for scion 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'scion.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English sioun, syon "branch, twig, offshoot," borrowed from Anglo-French cioun, ciun, sioun (continental Old French cion "offspring, new growth of a plant") from ci-, going back to an Old Low Franconian outcome of West Germanic *kīþa- "sprout, bud" + Old French -on, suffix, perhaps here with diminutive value, going back to Latin -ōn-, -ō, suffix of nouns denoting persons with a prominent feature; *kīþa- "sprout, bud" (whence also Old English cīþ "sprout, shoot, bud," Old Saxon kīth "shoot," Old High German kīd, also -kīdi in frumikīdi "first one"), going back to Indo-European *ǵei̯H-ti- or *ǵiH-ti-, noun derivative of a verbal base *ǵei̯H- "burst out, sprout," whence, from a nasal present, Germanic *kīnan- (whence Old English cīnan "to burst open, gape, [of skin] be chapped," Old Saxon kīnan "to sprout," Old High German chīnan "to sprout, germinate," Swedish dialect kina "to yawn," Gothic keinan "to sprout," uskeinan "to put forth, send out [growth]," with past participle uskijanata lacking -n-); whence also, with suffixed *-dh-, Latvian ziêdu, ziêdêt "to bloom," Lithuanian žydė́ti

Note: The Anglo-French forms are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, though their source is unspecified; the Anglo-Norman Dictionary lacks an entry for this word. The suffix should perhaps be taken as filling out a word that otherwise has little phonetic substance. — Another generally cited nominal derivative of the Germanic verb is represented by Old English cine, cinu (weak feminine noun) "chink, fissure" (compare chink entry 1), Middle Dutch kēne "cleft, crack." Armenian cil "stem, bud, top of a crop plant" has also been adduced, though Martirosyan (Etymological Dictionary of the Armenian Inherited Lexicon, Brill, 2009) believes that "I[ndo-]E[uropean] proposals are not convincing."

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of scion was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near scion

Cite this Entry

“Scion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


sci·​on ˈsī-ən How to pronounce scion (audio)
: a living part (as a bud or stem) that is cut from a plant and joined to another plant in grafting

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