1. A person who inherits or is entitled by law or by the terms of a will to inherit the estate of another.
2. A person who succeeds or is in line to succeed to a hereditary rank, title, or office.
3. One who receives or is expected to receive a heritage, as of ideas, from a predecessor.
[Middle English, from Anglo-Norman, from Latin hērēs; see ghē- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
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.