hereditary

as in genetic
genetically passed or capable of being passed from parent to offspring eye and hair color are hereditary

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How is the word hereditary different from other adjectives like it?

Some common synonyms of hereditary are congenital, inborn, inbred, and innate. While all these words mean "not acquired after birth," congenital and hereditary refer to what is acquired before or at birth, the former to things acquired during fetal development and the latter to things transmitted from one's ancestors.

a congenital heart murmur
eye color is hereditary

When might inborn be a better fit than hereditary?

While the synonyms inborn and hereditary are close in meaning, inborn suggests a quality or tendency either actually present at birth or so marked and deep-seated as to seem so.

her inborn love of nature

When can inbred be used instead of hereditary?

The synonyms inbred and hereditary are sometimes interchangeable, but inbred suggests something either acquired from parents by heredity or so deeply rooted and ingrained as to seem acquired in that way.

inbred political loyalties

Where would innate be a reasonable alternative to hereditary?

While in some cases nearly identical to hereditary, innate applies to qualities or characteristics that are part of one's inner essential nature.

an innate sense of fair play

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Cite this Entry

“Hereditary.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/hereditary. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

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