Definition of descent in English:

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Pronunciation: /dəˈsent/


1 [usually in singular] An action of moving downward, dropping, or falling: the plane had gone into a steep descent
More example sentences
  • He said the incident could have been quite serious, as the night turned cold and heavy rain began to fall during the descent.
  • The two climbers, then in their 20s, did reach the summit, but after a fall on the descent, Thomas suffered a severe leg injury.
  • I knew I could get the better of him on the descent even though I fell a number of times.
dive, drop;
fall, pitch, nosedive
downward climb
1.1A downward slope, especially a path or track: a steep, badly eroded descent
More example sentences
  • Sheep grazed the slopes above them; the descent to the shore ended in a farmyard.
  • The snow-topped, ice clad giants offer refuge from the daily grind in the form of miles of skiable slopes and long descents.
  • The showers before and during the race made the very steep descents a real challenge.
slope, incline, dip, drop, gradient, declivity, slant;
1.2A moral, social, or psychological decline into a specified undesirable state: the ancient empire’s slow descent into barbarism
More example sentences
  • The outcome will be a sexual identity free-for-all, and a further descent into a moral vacuum.
  • The results are a partial empirical accounting of the ideological developments accompanying the descent into civil war.
  • In the process he drove himself to exhaustion, and began a tragic descent into paranoia and self-destruction.
decline, slide, fall, degeneration, deterioration, regression
2The origin or background of a person in terms of family or nationality: American families of Hungarian 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.
ancestry, parentage, ancestors, family, antecedents;
extraction, origin, derivation, birth;
lineage, line, genealogy, heredity, stock, pedigree, blood, bloodline;
roots, origins
2.1The transmission of qualities, property, or privileges by inheritance.
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, succession
3 (descent on) A sudden, violent attack: a descent on the enemy airstrip
More example sentences
  • 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.
attack, assault, raid, onslaught, charge, thrust, push, drive, incursion, foray


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

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: de·scent

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