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

  • adj. Law Descending from an ancestor to a legal heir; passing down by inheritance.
  • adj. Law Having title or possession through inheritance.
  • adj. Transmitted or capable of being transmitted genetically from parent to offspring: a hereditary disease.
  • adj. Appearing in or characteristic of successive generations.
  • adj. Derived from or fostered by one's ancestors: a hereditary prejudice.
  • adj. Ancestral; traditional: their hereditary home. See Synonyms at innate.
  • adj. Of or relating to heredity or inheritance.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. which is passed on as inheritance, by last will or intestate
  • adj. legally granted to somebody's descendant after that person's death.
  • adj. holding a legally hereditary title or rank
  • adj. passed from a parent to offspring in the genes
  • n. A hereditary ruler; a hereditary peer in the House of Lords.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Descended, or capable of descending, from an ancestor to an heir at law; received or passing by inheritance, or that must pass by inheritance.
  • adj. Transmitted, or capable of being transmitted, as a constitutional quality or condition from a parent to a child.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In law: Descending by inheritance; transmitted or transmissible in the line of descent by force of law; passing to or held by an heir or heirs: as, a hereditary monarchy, office, or estate; hereditary privileges; hereditary bondage.
  • Holding by inheritance; deriving from ancestors by force of law, as rank, social condition, or property: as, a hereditary peer, proprietor, or bondman.
  • Pertaining to or resulting from successive generation; transmitted in a line of progeny; passing naturally from parent to offspring: as, hereditary descent; a hereditary line; hereditary features, qualities, or diseases.
  • Native; patrimonial; ancestral: as, one's hereditary home or occupation; a hereditary opinion or prejudice.
  • Acting from natal tendency or endowment; having inherited the character or qualifications of; being by force of birth: as, the Bachs were hereditary musicians; the Rothschilds are hereditary financiers.

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

  • adj. occurring among members of a family usually by heredity
  • adj. inherited or inheritable by established rules (usually legal rules) of descent


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

Middle English, from Latin hērēditārius, from hērēditās, inheritance; see heredity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin hereditarius, from hereditas 'inheritance', from heres 'heir'


  • The term hereditary is applied to diseases such as hemophilia and characteristics such as the tendency toward baldness that pass from parents to children.


  • She was the direct descendant of the Great _Maguinoó_, or Prince of Luzon, a title hereditary, according to tradition.

    The Philippine Islands

  • Her brother was King James's Chief Cupbearer for Ireland, a title hereditary in the Butler family, as their name implies.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 3: Brownson-Clairvaux

  • Henry Slootmaker said he is on medical leave after a hospital stay for what he described as a hereditary nervous disorder.

    Latest News

  • We say they mainly originate in a creature through a sense of its needs, and vary through the varying surroundings which will cause those needs to vary, and through the opening up of new desires in many creatures, as the consequence of the gratification of old ones; they depend greatly on differences of individual capacity and temperament; they are communicated, and in the course of time transmitted, as what we call hereditary habits or structures, though these are only, in truth, intense and epitomised memories of how certain creatures liked to deal with protoplasm.

    Life and Habit

  • On the English side, it can now mean that too, but it also (especially with the prefix high‑) means “class” as in hereditary status.

    Feckless Youth

  • It is true that Morgan's combination rule, according to which certain hereditary dispositions are more or less firmly combined, limits to a large degree Mendel's second rule that, at the formation of new hereditary substances, the genes may be freely combined.

    Physiology or Medicine 1933 - Presentation Speech

  • Frederick, with the mere prospect of the Sicilian succession for his son, desired to make the imperial title hereditary; much more was Henry, the active sovereign of Sicily, anxious to accomplish this.

    The Church and the Empire, Being an Outline of the History of the Church from A.D. 1003 to A.D. 1304

  • In Germany the Saxon line, beginning with Henry the Fowler (919-936), was permitted to make the royal title hereditary, and to assert an effective suzerainty over the other tribal dukes.

    Medieval Europe

  • Ministers in Ireland, and in the hands of these Ministers lay not only that large portion of the national income known as the hereditary revenue, but the whole machinery of patronage and corruption.

    The Framework of Home Rule


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