sci·​on | \ ˈsī-ən How to pronounce scion (audio) \

Definition of scion

1 : 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
2a : descendant, child especially : a descendant of a wealthy, aristocratic, or influential family
b : heir sense 1 scion of a railroad empire

Keep scrolling for more

Get Familial With Scion

Scion derives from the Middle English sioun and Old French cion and is related to the Old English cīth and the Old High German kīdi (meaning "sprout" or "shoot"). When it first sprouted in English in the 14th century, scion meant "a shoot or twig." That sense withered in horticultural contexts, but the word branched out, adding the grafting-related meaning we know today. A figurative sense also blossomed referring to one's descendants, with particular reference to those who are descendants of notable families.

Examples of scion in a Sentence

He's a scion of a powerful family.

Recent Examples on the Web

The American-educated entrepreneur and the scion of a prominent royal family will be the first Saudi woman to head a diplomatic mission. ... Jared Malsin, WSJ, "Saudi Arabia Names Princess as New U.S. Ambassador," 24 Feb. 2019 Forming the backdrop was his life story: The scion of a Navy family, McCain was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and returned to serve in Congress for more than three decades. Laurie Kellman, The Seattle Times, "‘Mavericks needed’: McCain Institute wades into election," 22 Oct. 2018 In the late 19th century, Olegario Ovalle Vicuña, the scion of a wealthy Chilean family, got inspired by a visit to the French Riviera and gave friends plots of land in Zapallar, horseshoed around a sapphire bay. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Next Great Food Scene, Beach Town, and More: The 2019 Trends We're Calling Now," 18 Dec. 2018 Meanwhile, in Widows, Henry’s character, Jamal Manning, challenges a local political scion (Colin Farrell) for a Southside aldermanship. Jenna Marotta, Vogue, "Brian Tyree Henry Still Roots for the Underdog," 23 Nov. 2018 Casely-Hayford was a scion of the African aristocracy—one who rebelled against it. Luke Leitch, Vogue, "Joe Casely-Hayford, the British Fashion Designer, Dies at 62," 3 Jan. 2019 Moon will also take a group of business tycoons including Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong to Pyongyang. Fox News, "South Korean president heads to North for summit with Kim," 18 Sep. 2018 The story had instantly made local headlines, with many playing up the angle of an out-of-control scion of privilege headed for a comeuppance on a biblical scale. Kevin Conley, Town & Country, "Too Much Horsepower," 24 Dec. 2012 The crimes that led this latest Gotti scion to be sent away were, according to the government, also entangled in the business that has occupied the family almost since the start of the Civil Rights era. Alan Feuer, New York Times, "Adhering to Family Tradition, Gotti’s Grandson Is Sentenced," 14 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of scion

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for scion

Middle English sioun, from Old French cion, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English cīth sprout, shoot, Old High German kīdi

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about scion

Listen to Our Podcast about scion

Statistics for scion

Last Updated

12 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scion

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for scion



English Language Learners Definition of scion

formal : a person who was born into a rich, famous, or important family
botany : a piece of a plant that is attached to part of another plant

More from Merriam-Webster on scion

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with scion

Britannica English: Translation of scion for Arabic Speakers

Comments on scion

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


a flaw that causes the downfall of a hero

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!