Definition of descent in English:


Line breaks: des|cent
Pronunciation: /dɪˈsɛnt


  • 2 [mass noun] The origin or background of a person in terms of family or nationality: the settlers were of Cornish descent
    More example sentences
    • The term ‘dynasty’ refers to a succession of kings belonging to one line of family descent.
    • Indeed, common place of origin is often connected with genos, one's origins by common descent and parentage.
    • Their rulers claimed descent from a common ancestor.
  • 2.1The transmission of qualities, property, or privileges by inheritance.
    More example sentences
    • Thus, at common law, an alien can acquire or take real or personal property under a will, and may acquire or take personal property by descent.
    • An estate is either ancestral or nonancestral; or, as this court says, there are two modes of acquiring title to property, one by descent or inheritance and the other by purchase or by the act or agreement of the parties.
    • The civil status of slaves in Tennessee, as well as in other states in which slavery existed, was such as to disable them from inheriting or transmitting property by descent.
    inheritance, passing down/on, succession
  • 3 (descent on) A sudden violent attack: a descent on the Channel ports
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    • We hear of ambushes, sudden descents on armies still in marching column, and enemies taken by surprise as a result of sudden forced marches, stealthy changes of position, deceptive signals, and deliberate misinformation.
    • Any sort of significant expedition meant risking defeat in the field, or a sudden descent on Damietta and loss of the city.
    • A sudden descent by a Roumanian army into Transylvania on August 30th was hailed as the harbinger of further successes.
  • 3.1An unexpected visit: his descents on the manager of any shop he took a fancy to visit
    More example sentences
    • A section of patrolmen made a sudden and unexpected descent upon an alleged gambling hell.


Middle English: from Old French descente, from descendre 'to descend' (see descend).

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