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

  • n. The act or an instance of descending.
  • n. A way down.
  • n. A downward incline or passage; a slope.
  • n. Hereditary derivation; lineage: a person of African descent.
  • n. One generation of a specific lineage.
  • n. The fact or process of coming down or being derived from a source: a paper tracing the descent of the novel from old picaresque tales.
  • n. Development in form or structure during transmission from an original source.
  • n. Law Transference of property by inheritance.
  • n. A lowering or decline, as in status or level: Her career went into a rapid descent after the charges of misconduct.
  • n. A sudden visit or attack; an onslaught.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An instance of descending
  • n. A way down.
  • n. A sloping passage or incline.
  • n. Lineage or hereditary derivation
  • n. A drop to a lower status or condition.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of descending, or passing downward; change of place from higher to lower.
  • n. Incursion; sudden attack; especially, hostile invasion from sea; -- often followed by upon or on.
  • n. Progress downward, as in station, virtue, as in station, virtue, and the like, from a higher to a lower state, from a higher to a lower state, from the more to the less important, from the better to the worse, etc.
  • n. Derivation, as from an ancestor; procedure by generation; lineage; birth; extraction.
  • n. Transmission of an estate by inheritance, usually, but not necessarily, in the descending line; title to inherit an estate by reason of consanguinity.
  • n. Inclination downward; a descending way; inclined or sloping surface; declivity; slope.
  • n. That which is descended; descendants; issue.
  • n. A step or remove downward in any scale of gradation; a degree in the scale of genealogy; a generation.
  • n. Lowest place; extreme downward place.
  • n. A passing from a higher to a lower tone.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act of descending; the act of passing from a higher to a lower place by any form of motion.
  • n. A downward slope or inclination; a declivity.
  • n. A fall or decline from a higher to a lower state or station; declension; degradation.
  • n. A sudden or hostile coming down upon a person, thing, or place; an incursion; an invasion; a sudden attack.
  • n. In law, the passing of real property to the heir or heirs of one who dies without disposing of it by will; transmission by succession or inheritance; the hereditary devolution of real property either to a single heir at law (common in England) or to the nearest relatives in the same degree, whether in a descending, ascending, or collateral line.
  • n. Genealogical extraction from an original or progenitor; lineage; pedigree; specifically, in biology, evolution; derivation: said of species, etc., as well as of individuals.
  • n. A generation; a single degree in the scale of genealogy, traced from the common ancestor.
  • n. Offspring; issue; descendants collectively.
  • n. A rank; a step or degree.
  • n. The lowest place.
  • n. plural In fortification, a hole, vault, or hollow place made by undermining the ground.
  • n. In music, a passing from a higher to a lower pitch.
  • n. In logic, an inference from a proposition containing a higher term to a proposition containing a lower term.
  • n. Debasement.
  • n. Foray, raid.
  • n. Generation, parentage, derivation.

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

  • n. a downward slope or bend
  • n. the act of changing your location in a downward direction
  • n. a movement downward
  • n. properties attributable to your ancestry
  • n. the kinship relation between an individual and the individual's progenitors
  • n. the descendants of one individual


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

Middle English, from Old French, descent, from feminine past participle of descendre, to descend; see descend.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English and Anglo-Norman descente, from Anglo-Norman descendre ("to descend"); see descend. Compare ascent, ascend.


  • Having at last found it, however, he forthwith began his descent; and here again he was disagreeably reminded of the much greater difficulty which is experienced in the _descent_ than in the _ascent_ of a cliff.

    The Voyage of the Aurora

  • What happens when a nationalized citizen of Latin descent is pulled over and told to show his identification papers?

    3 border state governors critical of Arizona immigration law

  • Brunswick, and the fourth in descent from the famous Henry the

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • When I say Darwinian evolution, I'm referring to Darwin's theory, which he called descent with modification.

    CNN Transcript May 12, 2005

  • In each case of what we call descent, it is still the first reproducing creature identically the same -- doing what it has done before -- only with such modifications as the struggle for existence and natural selection have induced.

    The Note-Books of Samuel Butler

  • The abrupt ridges face the Atlantic; on the west the descent is almost lost in the broad, elevated plateau which slopes down towards the Mississippi.

    The American Revolution. The Border Slave States

  • But we've put in a little twist where the rockets are actually attached to what we call a "descent stage" that flies the rover down and the rover is attached to the underside of that stage.

    Boing Boing

  • She and Patricio Lanfranco, a Chilean filmmaker and news producer who did occasional work for "The NewsHour," spent years tracking the judge and what he called his descent into "the abyss" of the country's past, continuing on despite considerable challenges raising the funds that went for, among other things, acquiring the expensive archival footage that the duPont judges found compelling.


  • Using "descent" is almost begging to be misinterpreted.

    Behe, Common Descent, & UD

  • The line of descent from the first organism to the manifold life around us is astonishingly beautiful, orderly, lawful and harmonious, the more so if there are no gaps that must be bridged by ad hoc divine interventions.

    Stromata Blog


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  • JM reckons the study of genealogy should be part of any descent education.

    June 15, 2011

  • JM reckons the study of genealogy should be part of any descent education.

    June 15, 2011

  • JM reckons the study of genealogy should be part of any descent education.

    June 15, 2011

  • the alighting of prophetic vision

    July 22, 2009