from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The action of inheriting something.
  • noun Something inherited or to be inherited.
  • noun Something regarded as a heritage: synonym: heritage.
  • noun The process of genetic transmission of characteristics from parent or ancestor to offspring.
  • noun A characteristic so inherited.
  • noun The sum of genetically transmitted characteristics.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The act of inheriting, in any sense of that word: as, the inheritance of property or of disease.
  • noun In law, the estate cast upon the heir by law immediately on the death of the ancestor (Broom and Hadley); a legal right to real property not limited by years or the owner's life, so that it will pass by descent; an estate inuring to a person and his heirs; real estate. See estate of inheritance, under estate.
  • noun That which is or may be inherited; the immovable property passing in a family by descent; in a more general sense, any property passing by death to those entitled to succeed; a patrimony; a heritage.
  • noun A possession received by gift or without purchase; a permanent possession.
  • noun Possession; ownership; acquisition.
  • noun According to Galton's law of ancestral inheritance, the two parents contribute between them, on the average, one half of each inherited faculty, each of them contributing one quarter of it; the four grandparents contribute between them one quarter, or each of them one sixteenth; and so on.
  • noun According to Pearson's law, the contribution of the grandparents and great-grandparents is greater than Galton's law calls for, and the difference increases rapidly for more remote generations. Parental characteristics are sometimes strongly hereditary, sometimes slightly or not at all so; and while Galton and Pearson assume that these differences will, on the average, balance each other, the facts of inheritance show that this is not the case, and that the statistical laws, while no doubt useful for statistical purposes, are compiled from data some of which are date of inheritance and some not, and that they are of little value to the breeder who deals with individuals, or to the student of inheritance who seeks to distinguish hereditary from non-hereditary characters. So far as a parent resembles collateral relatives, such as brothers, sisters, and cousins, the resemblances are often transmitted to descendants with nearly or quite four times the frequency which these laws require.
  • noun Mendel's law of ancestral inheritance. In 1865 Gregor Johann Mendel (1822–84), an Austrian priest, published an account of experiments which he had undertaken for the purpose of determining the numerical value of parental characters in inheritance. Having obtained seed from the cross-breeding of two races or varieties of the garden pea which differed from each other in some one characteristic (for example, those with round and those with wrinkled seeds), he found that the cross-bred plants raised from these seeds manifested only one of the characteristics (roundness of seed, for example), which he called the dominant
  • noun (D), to the total or almost total exclusion of the other (irregularity of seed, for example), which he called recessive
  • noun (R). The second generation, produced from the crossbred plants which were allowed to fertilize themselves, instead of being uniform like their parents, broke into the two original forms in the average ratio of three dominants to one recessive. The recessives are themselves pure, and, if allowed to fertilize themselves, give rise to recessives only, for many generations. One third of the dominants are also pure, while the other two thirds produce descendants of which two thirds are dominants and one third pure recessives. Each successive generation consists of dominants and recessives in the ratio, for each 100, of 25 dominants of pure blood, 25 recessives of pure blood, and 50 dominants which produce descendants in the ratio of three dominants to one recessive. This result is expressed by Mendel in the formula, for each successive generation. 25 DD; 50 DR; 25 R; but it may also be expressed as x + 2xy + y and the result of cross-breeding with any number of characters conforms closely to the algebraical binomial theorem, or the expansion of (a + b + c + …. x). More recent study tends to show that Mendel's results hold good pretty generally, but by no means universally, in similar cases. Experiments and observations for the purpose of discovering the structural equivalent for the numerical law tend to support Mendel's opinion that there are, for two characters, four sorts of germ-cells in the reproductive organs of the cross-bred individuals—dominant ova, recessive ova, dominant male cells, and recessive male cells—and that, these are, on the average, equal in number, so that one quarter of the descendants are born from dominant ova fertilized by dominant male cells and are pure dominants; one quarter are born from recessive ova fertilized by recessive male cells, and are pure recessives; and one half are born from the union of an ovum of one sort with a male cell of the other sort, and are able to produce pure dominants, pure recessives, and cross-bred descendants in the original ratio.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The act or state of inheriting
  • noun That which is or may be inherited; that which is derived by an heir from an ancestor or other person; a heritage; a possession which passes by descent.
  • noun A permanent or valuable possession or blessing, esp. one received by gift or without purchase; a benefaction.
  • noun Possession; ownership; acquisition.
  • noun (Biol.) Transmission and reception by animal or plant generation.
  • noun (Law) A perpetual or continuing right which a man and his heirs have to an estate; an estate which a man has by descent as heir to another, or which he may transmit to another as his heir; an estate derived from an ancestor to an heir in course of law.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The passing of title to an estate upon death.
  • noun countable That which a person is entitled to inherit, by law or testament.
  • noun biology The hereditary passing of biological attributes from ancestors to their offspring.
  • noun computing In object-oriented programming, the mechanism whereby parts of a superclass are available to instances of its subclass.

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

  • noun any attribute or immaterial possession that is inherited from ancestors
  • noun (genetics) attributes acquired via biological heredity from the parents
  • noun that which is inherited; a title or property or estate that passes by law to the heir on the death of the owner
  • noun hereditary succession to a title or an office or property


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Recorded since 1473, from to inherit, itself from Old French enheriter "make heir, appoint as heir," from Late Latin inhereditare "to appoint as heir," from Latin in- "in" + hereditare "to inherit," from heres (gen. heredis) "heir".


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