v. de·scend·ed, de·scend·ing, de·scends
1. To move from a higher to a lower place; come or go down.
2. To slope, extend, or incline downward: "A rough path descended like a steep stair into the plain" (J.R.R. Tolkien).
a. To be related by genetic descent from an individual or individuals in a previous generation: He descends from Norwegian immigrants.
b. To come down from a source; derive: a tradition descending from colonial days.
c. To pass by inheritance: The house has descended through four generations.
4. To lower oneself; stoop: "She, the conqueror, had descended to the level of the conquered" (James Bryce).
5. To proceed or progress downward, as in rank, pitch, or scale: titles listed in descending order of importance; notes that descended to the lower register.
6. To arrive or attack in a sudden or overwhelming manner: summer tourists descending on the seashore village.
1. To move from a higher to lower part of; go down: I descended the staircase into the basement.
2. To extend or proceed downward along: a road that descended the mountain in sharp curves.
be descended from
To be related to (an ancestor) by genetic descent from an individual or individuals in a previous generation: She claims to be descended from European royalty.
[Middle English descenden, from Old French descendre, from Latin dēscendere : dē-, de- + scandere, to climb; see skand- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
de·scendi·ble, de·scenda·ble adj.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.