Definition of descendant in English:



  • 1A person, plant, or animal that is descended from a particular ancestor.

    ‘Shakespeare's last direct descendant’
    • ‘The people who attend them are first-generation immigrants or more likely their second and third generation descendants.’
    • ‘Some of the plaintiffs are direct descendants of those early settlers.’
    • ‘People also expect the deceased to maintain interest in their descendants, as ancestral spirits.’
    • ‘Eventually, the DNA materials may be able to link the crew members with their living descendants.’
    • ‘The lineal descendants of a farmer have the first right to purchase a farm.’
    • ‘If they did, it would mark them as descendants of a common ancestor.’
    • ‘My ancestors were priests, but none of the present generation descendants are priests.’
    • ‘Until 1994, the company was owned by the descendants of the founders.’
    • ‘The preferred marriage partner should come from the same neighborhood and be a descendant of a common ancestor.’
    • ‘All three of us here are living descendants of that powerful family.’
    • ‘Will our descendants live most of their lives in a virtual reality?’
    • ‘Most biologists consider it the direct descendant of the ancestor of the domesticated two-humped species.’
    • ‘How important is ethnicity for the descendants of emigrants?’
    • ‘Their wanderings ceased when they reached the beautiful mountain home where their descendants live today.’
    • ‘They disappeared along with the dinosaurs when that period ended, leaving no modern descendants.’
    • ‘Their descendants have been left in a quandary.’
    • ‘As time passes, these species, together with their various descendant species, continue to diverge.’
    • ‘Birds - the feathered descendants of the dinosaurs - fascinate her.’
    • ‘Some of the fossils are proving pivotal in testing the hypothesis that birds are the living descendants of dinosaurs.’
    • ‘He had made something of himself despite the fact he had most likely been a descendant of a slave.’
    successor, scion
    offshoot, heir
    offspring, progeny, issue, family, lineage, line
    posterity, seed, fruit, fruit of someone's loins
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A machine, artifact, system, etc., that has developed from an earlier, more rudimentary version.
      • ‘The internet is not the descendant of the telephone, nor has it replaced it.’
      • ‘An argument can be made that since so many Cajun pioneers copied the Creole accordionist that Cajun music is a descendant of Creole music. But that's another column.’
      • ‘The project is a direct descendant of the Learning Design Tools project and other predecessor projects in the E-learning and Pedagogy programme.’


The correct spelling for the noun meaning ‘person descended from a particular ancestor’ is descendant, ending with the suffix -ant, not -ent (as in she claims to be a descendant of Paul Revere). The word descendent is an adjective, now used almost exclusively in scientific contexts, meaning ‘descending from an ancestor’ (as in extinct species are replaced by descendent species). Almost 15 percent of the citations for the noun in the Oxford English Corpus use the wrong spelling


Late Middle English (as an adjective in the sense descending): from French, present participle of descendre to descend (see descend). The noun dates from the early 17th century.