1. Property that is or can be inherited; an inheritance.
2. Something that is passed down from preceding generations; a tradition.
3. The status acquired by a person through birth; a birthright: a heritage of affluence and social position.
4. A domesticated animal or a crop of a traditional breed, usually not widely produced for commercial purposes.
[Middle English, from Old French, from eritier, heir, from Medieval Latin hērēditārius, from Latin, inherited; see HEREDITARY.]
Synonyms: heritage, inheritance, legacy, tradition
These nouns denote something immaterial, such as a practice or custom, that is passed from one generation to another: a heritage of volunteerism; a rich inheritance of storytelling; a legacy of philosophical thought; the family tradition of going for a walk on Thanksgiving.
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.