Meaning of DESCENT in English

I. də̇ˈsent, dēˈ- noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French descente, from descendre to descend — more at descend

1. : the act or process of descending from a higher to a lower level, rank, or state

a parachute descent

during their descent of the ski run

some thirty-two separate rapids and cataracts in its final furious descent — Tom Marvel

descent by chromatic intervals

ascent and descent between the physical and spiritual worlds — Times Literary Supplement


a. : a decline or comedown in station, respectability, or living conditions

the descent to being junior partners of the newcomer to world power — D.W.Brogan

descent of the family to actual shabbiness

b. : a stepping down or stooping to an inferior level (as of intellectual elevation, dignity, self-respect)

look around among my books for a further descent from philosophy to literature — O.W.Holmes †1935

descent from self-justification to self-deception

a sudden descent … from the sublimity of his highfalutin critical terminology — Times Literary Supplement

c. logic : passage from the more general to the more particular


a. : derivation from an ancestor : birth

only three alternatives are known, namely, patrilineal, matrilineal, or bilateral descent , and every culture incorporates one of these rules or some combination thereof — G.P.Murdock

usually : the established connection between an individual and his progenitors or the stock from which he is descended : extraction , lineage

of Pilgrim stock, eighth in descent through his mother from a governor of the colony

people of Polish descent

b. obsolete : descendant

our descent … born to certain woe, devoured by death — John Milton

c. : transmission or devolution of an estate by inheritance usually but not necessarily in the descending line

d. : the fact or process of originating by generation from an ancestral stock (as a species or genus)

e. : the shaping or development in nature and character by transmission from a source : derivation , origination

the home of an active legal science which could trace a faint but sure descent from Roman law — R.W.Southern

there was a line of descent from these ideas to the Fascist movement — Cecil Sprigge

native American voices tracing their descent from the Know-Nothings of yesterday — T.H.White b.1915


a. : an inclination downward : an inclined or sloping surface : declivity

it appears that the water is broken nowhere by striking against the rocks, and that therefore the descent is perpendicular — Anthony Trollope

b. : a descending way (as a downgrade or stairway)

c. obsolete : the lowest part

from the extremest upward of thy head to the descent and dust below thy foot — Shakespeare


a. : a sudden disconcerting appearance (as for a visit)

unprepared for the descent of his in-laws

b. : a hostile raid or predatory assault

the descent of the Assyrians upon Israel

descent of the locusts

6. : a step downward in a scale of gradation ; specifically : one generation in an ancestral line or genealogical scale

his pedigree shows 11 descents

7. : a former method of distillation in which the material was heated in a vessel having its outlet underneath so that the vapors produced were forced to descend

II. (ˈ)dē|sent transitive verb

Etymology: de- + scent (n.)

: to rid of scent

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.