Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To move from a higher to a lower place; come or go down.
  • intransitive v. To slope, extend, or incline downward: "A rough path descended like a steep stair into the plain” ( J.R.R. Tolkien).
  • intransitive v. To come from an ancestor or ancestry: He was descended from a pioneer family.
  • intransitive v. To come down from a source; derive: a tradition descending from colonial days.
  • intransitive v. To pass by inheritance: The house has descended through four generations.
  • intransitive v. To lower oneself; stoop: "She, the conqueror, had descended to the level of the conquered” ( James Bryce).
  • intransitive v. To proceed or progress downward, as in rank, pitch, or scale: titles listed in descending order of importance; notes that descended to the lower register.
  • intransitive v. To arrive or attack in a sudden or an overwhelming manner: summer tourists descending on the seashore village.
  • transitive v. To move from a higher to a lower part of; go down.
  • transitive v. To get down from: "People descended the minibus that shuttled guests to the nearby . . . beach” ( Howard Kaplan).
  • transitive v. To extend or proceed downward along: a road that descended the mountain in sharp curves.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To pass from a higher to a lower place; to move downwards; to come or go down in any way, as by falling, flowing, walking, etc.; to plunge; to fall; to incline downward
  • v. To make an attack, or incursion, as if from a vantage ground; to come suddenly and with violence; -- with on or upon.
  • v. To come down to a lower, less fortunate, humbler, less virtuous, or worse, state or station; to lower or abase one's self; as, he descended from his high estate.
  • v. To pass from the more general or important to the particular or less important matters to be considered.
  • v. To come down, as from a source, original, or stock; to be derived; to proceed by generation or by transmission; to fall or pass by inheritance; as, the beggar may descend from a prince; a crown descends to the heir.
  • v. To move toward the south, or to the southward.
  • v. To fall in pitch; to pass from a higher to a lower tone.
  • v. To go down upon or along; to pass from a higher to a lower part of; as, they descended the river in boats; to descend a ladder.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To pass from a higher to a lower place; to move downwards; to come or go down in any way, as by falling, flowing, walking, etc.; to plunge; to fall; to incline downward; -- the opposite of ascend.
  • intransitive v. To enter mentally; to retire.
  • intransitive v. To make an attack, or incursion, as if from a vantage ground; to come suddenly and with violence; -- with on or upon.
  • intransitive v. To come down to a lower, less fortunate, humbler, less virtuous, or worse, state or station; to lower or abase one's self.
  • intransitive v. To pass from the more general or important to the particular or less important matters to be considered.
  • intransitive v. To come down, as from a source, original, or stock; to be derived; to proceed by generation or by transmission; to fall or pass by inheritance
  • intransitive v. To move toward the south, or to the southward.
  • intransitive v. To fall in pitch; to pass from a higher to a lower tone.
  • transitive v. To go down upon or along; to pass from a higher to a lower part of

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To move or pass from a higher to a lower place; move, come, or go downward; fall; sink: as, he descended from the tower; the sun is descending.
  • To come or go down in a hostile manner; invade, as an enemy; fall violently: with on.
  • To proceed from a source or original; be derived lineally or by transmission; come or pass downward, as offspring in the line of generation, or as property from owner to heir.
  • To pass, as from general to particular statements: as, having explained the general subject, we will descend to particulars.
  • To come down from a certain moral or social standard; lower or abase one's self morally or socially: as, to descend to acts of meanness; to descend to an inferior position; hence, to condescend; stoop.
  • In astronomy, to move to the southward, or toward the south, as a star.
  • To move or pass downward upon or along; come or go down upon; pass from the top to the bottom of: as, to descend a hill; to descend an inclined plane.
  • In physical, to pass from higher to lower readings or values upon any scale: said specifically of the musical scale and of the thermometric scale.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. come from; be connected by a relationship of blood, for example
  • v. come as if by falling
  • v. move downward and lower, but not necessarily all the way
  • v. do something that one considers to be below one's dignity

Etymologies

Middle English descenden, from Old French descendre, from Latin dēscendere : dē-, de- + scandere, to climb; see skand- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English decenden, from Old French descendre, from Latin descendere, past participle descensus ("to come down, go down, fall, sink"), from de- ("down") + scandere ("to climb"). See scan, scandent. Compare ascend, condescend, transcend. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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