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 ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.