Definition of hereditary in English:



  • 1(of a title, office, or right) conferred by or based on inheritance.

    ‘the Queen's hereditary right to the throne’
    • ‘He said a foetus does, however, have rights in certain civil cases regarding hereditary rights whereby an unborn child may be entitled to an inheritance.’
    • ‘In an unusual gesture of papal appreciation, the title was made hereditary.’
    • ‘The governors of the regions of Egypt gained hereditary claim to their offices and subsequently their families acquired large estates.’
    • ‘Ironically Arnold himself liked to express the occasional dislike of hereditary honours and titles.’
    • ‘The passing on of property or titles is also hereditary and through the eldest male child of the family.’
    • ‘Koité, from Northwestern Mali, is a member of the hereditary Mande caste of musicians and craftsmen known as jalis.’
    • ‘The 51-year-old inherited the baronetcy from his late father, Sir Denis, who had the hereditary title bestowed upon him after his wife ceased to be prime minister.’
    • ‘It also extended to the butchers the extraordinary right to close their corporation, rendering membership strictly hereditary.’
    • ‘Haida Nation president Guujaaw handed the writ to Haida runners in a highly charged formal ceremony, with instructions to take their claim of hereditary title to the B.C. Supreme Court.’
    • ‘Continuity in government was no longer simply a matter of hereditary right; instead the state was increasingly perceived as autonomous, independent of whomever happened to be ruling at any given moment.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, prescription and hereditary right would never again command unchallenged consent as a basis for legitimate political authority.’
    • ‘These were members of the royal family whose dynasties became hereditary while their traditional districts were clearly defined by boundaries and Bemba names.’
    • ‘From 1133 the office was hereditary in the de Vere family, though with interruptions and vicissitudes, until it passed in 1626 to their cousins the Berties, as Lords Willoughby de Eresby.’
    • ‘Belonging to the Japanese samurai class was a hereditary membership.’
    • ‘The original constitution restricted the right to vote by property but outlawed hereditary titles and added trial by jury in criminal cases.’
    • ‘Richard lasted only two years before he was deposed by Henry Tudor, a relation to the House of Lancaster but with no realistic hereditary claim to the throne.’
    • ‘While father had been forced to leave the hereditary title to his only son, he had made sure that I, his pet, would have a gorgeous dowry, and if I never married, access to anything I ever wanted.’
    • ‘Yoritomo took the title of shogun, which had been a temporary commission from the emperor, and made it a permanent hereditary office.’
    • ‘Beyond sitting in both Houses of Parliament, Willoughby fulfilled his hereditary responsibilities as an enthusiastic member of the Warwickshire Yeomanry.’
    • ‘Perhaps in this predicament, Edgeworth acknowledges the hereditary rights of the native Irish and the barriers that a lack of education has placed between them and those rights.’
    1. 1.1[attributive](of a person) holding a position by inheritance.
      ‘a hereditary peer’
      • ‘Members of a hereditary Siddha family must be encouraged to practice without any restrictions by giving registration so that the skill is not lost.’
      • ‘Yet I am inclined to think that a death of a Royal or titled hereditary aristocrat is something different.’
      • ‘This advisory body consisted of hereditary and life members, the latter being ex-magistrates.’
      • ‘The hereditary president of the Confederation and commander of its troops was the King of Prussia, who embodied the principle of monarchical legitimacy.’
      • ‘By this time Plana was astronomer royal, and he went on to become a hereditary baron in 1844 and a senator in 1848.’
      • ‘Six members are hereditary peers: the Duke of Buccleuch, the Earl of Wemyss, the Earl of Elgin, the Earl of Airlie, the Viscount of Arbuthnott, and the Earl of Crawford.’
      • ‘In ‘The Rights of Man’ Tom Paine slates the concept of hereditary succession as being ‘as absurd as an hereditary mathematician, or an hereditary wise man’.’
      • ‘The land of some manors was wholly in the hands of hereditary tenants, and there were manors of this sort that had no halls of their own; the tenants paid their services elsewhere.’
      • ‘In 1957, at the age of 20, the Aga Khan succeeded his grandfather as the hereditary leader of the Ismaili Muslims.’
      • ‘Whether forced or voluntary, Roman emperors, kings and queens, hereditary princes and grand dukes and, yes, even popes have abdicated.’
      • ‘The hereditary king of Hawaii is calling for 100% pure-blood Hawaiians of noble descent to come forward and form a new government.’
      • ‘It is through war that a hereditary prince retains power and a private citizen rises to power.’
      • ‘Buffalo City mayor Sindisile Maclean told Swedes in Linkoping, Sweden this week how South Africa was battling to incorporate hereditary leaders into the new democratic order.’
      • ‘The shogunate was the government of the shogun, or hereditary military dictator, of Japan and this type of rule lasted from 1192 to 1867.’
      • ‘It belongs to the hereditary Queen of the Faeries Anna Marpessa, but I expect you have met her already.’
      • ‘The President of the United States would be an officer elected by the people for four years; the king of Great Britain is a perpetual and hereditary prince.’
      • ‘Christy, the blacksmith and rightful heir, has no sense of the estate as his own, and can barely understand the revelation that he is the hereditary lord.’
      • ‘Sometimes the head of a hereditary family of poets inaugurated the new chief of their locality by handing him a ‘rod of kingship’ - proclaiming his title aloud before the assembled people.’
      • ‘The people were governed by hereditary princes called Sao-Phas who ruled in as many as forty different principalities.’
      • ‘From the perspective of later developments, the Enlightened Despotism of the eighteenth century seems like a last-ditch attempt to match the personal rule of hereditary princes to the needs of the modern state.’
    2. 1.2(of a characteristic or disease) determined by genetic factors and therefore able to be passed on from parents to their offspring or descendants.
      ‘cystic fibrosis is our most common fatal hereditary disease’
      ‘either hereditary or environmental factors’
      • ‘A whole range of completely different maps would be obtained if the criterion was head shape, nose length, crinkliness of hair, relative lengths of arms and legs or any other hereditary difference.’
      • ‘Because pernicious anemia can be hereditary, let your doctor know if you have a relative with the disorder so that he or she can test your blood every few years.’
      • ‘They extend their speculations, even forecasting that, by genetic manipulation, they will be able to cure hereditary diseases and defects and, possibly, make a race having superior bodies and intellects.’
      • ‘The identification of specific genes associated with hereditary cancer risk has enabled direct diagnosis of hereditary cancer syndromes through genetic analysis.’
      • ‘This study confirms that members of families with hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer require surveillance with short intervals.’
      • ‘The hereditary elements proposed by Darwin were more physical - and therein lay their downfall.’
      • ‘This characteristic is hereditary, passed on from a person to his children.’
      • ‘Human trials of gene-based therapies aimed at both macular degeneration and hereditary blindness are set to begin in the U.K. perhaps as early as next year.’
      • ‘Simon said there had been some evidence of an hereditary element to Alzheimer's.’
      • ‘Most of such defects are hereditary and due to marriages between close relations.’
      • ‘Although all of these diseases have hereditary factors, most can be prevented with relatively simple steps: healthy eating, being physically active, and not smoking.’
      • ‘Christina believes that her condition may be hereditary as she shares them with her female relatives.’
      • ‘A racial group is based on hereditary physical traits often identified with geography.’
      • ‘An Austrian monk, Gregor Mendel, introduced the world to hereditary factors - genes - that determine all hereditary traits.’
      • ‘At low radiation doses, the principal concern is the risk of radiation-induced cancer in exposed individuals and hereditary disease in their descendants.’
      • ‘Discovering the presence of fibrinogen defect in another family member is the best way to show a hereditary condition.’
      • ‘Now Canadian writer Alex Bulmer offers her experience of going blind in adulthood as a result of a hereditary genetic disease.’
      • ‘Even if your lab results are normal, you might need to get blood tests again every few years if you have some of the signs of hereditary hemochromatosis or a relative with it.’
      • ‘The optimal surveillance frequency has not yet been defined in families with hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer.’
      • ‘MS is not hereditary but can occur in more than one family member, suggesting a genetic predisposition.’
      genetic, genetical, congenital, inborn, inherent, inherited, inbred, innate, in the family, in the blood, in the genes
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Relating to inheritance.
      ‘the main objection to the hereditary principle is that such peers are not elected’
      • ‘Rather, it needs to be able to plurify - that is, to increase, relative to other individuals, the representation of its hereditary contribution to the next generation.’
      • ‘Denmark is a constitutional monarchy in which succession to the throne is hereditary and the ruling monarch must be a member of the national church.’
      • ‘Abolition of the hereditary element in the Lords was carried through without, it seemed, much idea of what was to follow.’
      • ‘According to Mendel, the hereditary elements were like particles, and took two forms - dominant and recessive.’
      • ‘With the recent abolition of the hereditary element of the House of Lords by New Labour, many of those kind of instinctive assumptions have simply disappeared.’
      • ‘Slavery was perpetual also in the sense that it was often thought of as hereditary.’
      • ‘Cambodia's royal succession is not hereditary, and King Sihanouk has no power to appoint a successor, but he can influence the decision of the Throne Council.’
      • ‘Talk of a hereditary succession gained momentum after news reports late last month that North Korea's state radio hinted at such a plan.’
      • ‘In principle, hereditary succession is rejected by the juristic tradition.’
      • ‘This same sort of hereditary cultural succession became fantastically popular among early modern writers.’
      • ‘And if you buy into the principle of hereditary monarchy, it surely follows that you expect the royal family to behave better than us ordinary folk.’
      • ‘It deals with, among many other things, the conflict between hereditary and elective principles and the constitutional problems of a second chamber.’
      • ‘That was a problem because a duke is a nobleman of the highest hereditary rank and a member of the highest grade of the British peerage.’
      • ‘Being the president's son may have done more harm than good for Gamal Mubarak, since the notion of his becoming president is linked to the much-maligned concept of hereditary succession.’
      • ‘Scott is relatively unbiased but has close, almost hereditary, connections with the Liberal Party.’
      • ‘The 63-year-old Kim succeeded his father when the latter died in 1994, marking the first hereditary succession of power in a communist country.’
      • ‘Kifaya's oft-chanted slogan, ‘no to extension no to hereditary succession’, is more relevant than ever, said spokesman Abdel-Halim Qandil.’
      • ‘But acclamation did not rule out the possibility of hereditary or even dynastic successions.’
      • ‘Either you think the head of government in the United Kingdom should be picked by hereditary principle or you do not.’
      • ‘The position was now ‘very different from 1999’ and the time had come to get rid of the hereditary principle, he replied.’
      inherited, obtained by inheritance
      View synonyms
  • 2Mathematics
    (of a set) defined such that every element which has a given relation to a member of the set is also a member of the set.

    • ‘One of the chief stumbling blocks in such a task is the fact that the notion of derivative is a hereditary property for analytic functions while this is clearly not the case for solutions of general second order elliptic equations.’


Late Middle English: from Latin hereditarius, from hereditas (see heredity).