he·​red·​i·​ty | \ hə-ˈre-də-tē How to pronounce heredity (audio) \

Definition of heredity

2a : the sum of the characteristics and potentialities genetically derived from one's ancestors
b : the transmission of such qualities from ancestor to descendant through the genes

Examples of heredity in a Sentence

Heredity plays no part in the disease.
Recent Examples on the Web Other lifestyle factors such as obesity, lack of activity, blood pressure, and heredity can influence cholesterol levels. Patricia Doherty, Travel + Leisure, 29 Aug. 2021 Such a critique of capitalism quickly becomes a prisoner of its own heredity. Matthew Karp, Harper's Magazine, 22 June 2021 Not surprisingly, the findings suggest that heredity and environment do contribute to musical aptitude and achievement. Cindi May, Scientific American, 21 May 2021 Such cases have increasingly come to light as children born as a result of such procedures take DNA heredity tests, though some victims have encountered trouble bringing the doctors to justice. Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland, 8 Feb. 2021 All this culminated in the untimely and unethical use of CRISPR by the scientist He Jiankui to edit the germline DNA of human embryos, an irresponsible and cavalier act that affected the heredity of two girls forever. Adrian Woolfson, Washington Post, 20 Nov. 2020 The implication that plants, animals, and, by extension, people, could be shaped in any desirable way, unconstrained by heredity, fit with Marxist theory. Sean B. Carroll, The Atlantic, 6 Oct. 2020 Crispr has also become one of the most controversial developments in science because of its potential to alter human heredity. Elian Peltier, New York Times, 7 Oct. 2020 Nevertheless, Lysenko retained his stranglehold on Soviet biology for another 15 years, even steadfastly refusing to accept the discovery of DNA as the basis of heredity. Sean B. Carroll, The Atlantic, 6 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'heredity.' 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 heredity

circa 1540, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for heredity

borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French heredité, borrowed from Latin hērēditāt-, hērēditās "inheritance," from hērēd-, hērēs heir entry 1 + -itāt-, -itās -ity

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Time Traveler for heredity

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The first known use of heredity was circa 1540

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Dictionary Entries Near heredity

hereditas jacens



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Last Updated

11 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Heredity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for heredity



English Language Learners Definition of heredity

: the natural process by which physical and mental qualities are passed from a parent to a child


he·​red·​i·​ty | \ hə-ˈre-də-tē How to pronounce heredity (audio) \
plural heredities

Kids Definition of heredity

: the passing on of characteristics (as the color of the eyes or hair) from parents to offspring


he·​red·​i·​ty | \ hə-ˈred-ət-ē How to pronounce heredity (audio) \
plural heredities

Medical Definition of heredity

1 : the sum of the qualities and potentialities genetically derived from one's ancestors
2 : the transmission of traits from ancestor to descendant through the molecular mechanism lying primarily in the DNA or RNA of the genes — compare meiosis


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