Definition of descendant in English:


Line breaks: des¦cend|ant
Pronunciation: /dɪˈsɛnd(ə)nt


  • 1A person, plant, or animal that is descended from a particular ancestor: she’s a descendant of Charles Darwin
    More example sentences
    • Most biologists consider it the direct descendant of the ancestor of the domesticated two-humped species.
    • People also expect the deceased to maintain interest in their descendants, as ancestral spirits.
    • Some of the plaintiffs are direct descendants of those early settlers.
    successor, scion; offshoot, heir; (descendants) offspring, progeny, issue, family, lineage, line
    archaic posterity, seed, fruit, fruit of someone's loins
  • 1.1A machine, artefact, system, etc., that has developed from an earlier, more rudimentary version: house music is a descendant of disco
    More example sentences
    • The project is a direct descendant of the Learning Design Tools project and other predecessor projects in the E-learning and Pedagogy programme.
    • An argument can be made that since so many Cajun pioneers copied the Creole accordionist that Cajun music is a descendant of Creole music. But that's another column.
    • The internet is not the descendant of the telephone, nor has it replaced it.


late Middle English (as an adjective in the sense 'descending'): from French, present participle of descendre 'to descend' (see descend). The noun dates from the early 17th century.


The correct spelling for the noun meaning ‘person descended from a particular ancestor’ is descendant, not -ent. Descendent is a less common adjective meaning ‘descending from an ancestor’. Almost 15 per cent of the citations for the term in the Oxford English Corpus use the wrong spelling.

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