Definition of descent in US English:

descent

noun

  • 1usually in singular An action of moving downward, dropping, or falling.

    ‘the plane had gone into a steep descent’
    • ‘What I thought was a straightforward descent turned horrific.’
    • ‘After the steepest descent I have ever ridden to this day, it was a short ride up the valley to the lodge where hot dinner was waiting.’
    • ‘By the time the steepest descent is over my arms are hurting, but we haven't stopped and it's not over yet.’
    • ‘The descent and ascent should both be at the same moderate pace.’
    • ‘After a quick tour of the mine facilities, the party re-boarded the little train, sans locomotive, for the descent was to be made by gravity.’
    • ‘Prior to the final touch down, the spacecraft shuts down the propulsion engine and enters into a free fall descent.’
    • ‘Carefully, she started a gradual, painstaking descent to the frothing ocean below.’
    • ‘Gunter is careful to control the descent on this movement so he doesn't overstretch his shoulders.’
    • ‘I knew I could get the better of him on the descent even though I fell a number of times.’
    • ‘The images sent back to Earth partially overlap, due to the probe's rotation during the descent and due to the overlap between the fields of view of the different cameras.’
    • ‘Upon pulling them on, I started my slow descent down the stairs.’
    • ‘Then began the slow cold descent into darkness.’
    • ‘During the descent, four members of his group fell to their deaths.’
    • ‘Resist the pull of the gravity on the descent and force the weight to move slowly back to the start.’
    • ‘The idea is to prevent my back from arching and my legs from dropping during the descent.’
    • ‘He said the incident could have been quite serious, as the night turned cold and heavy rain began to fall during the descent.’
    • ‘The descent was fast, steep, and playfully technical in parts.’
    • ‘It was while glancing back that he took a fall and twisted his ankle on the final descent and came back into the finishing field with bloodied knees.’
    • ‘The two climbers, then in their 20s, did reach the summit, but after a fall on the descent, Thomas suffered a severe leg injury.’
    • ‘During descent, you should gently equalize your ears and mask.’
    going down, coming down
    downward climb, descending
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    1. 1.1 A downward slope, especially a path or track.
      ‘a steep, badly eroded descent’
      • ‘The showers before and during the race made the very steep descents a real challenge.’
      • ‘From there a steep descent north took us to the edge of another plantation where a well-used footpath dropped down through the trees to a broad track.’
      • ‘From there, a steep descent drops to a high and rocky col, from where very rocky ground leads to the summit and some of the widest views I've seen for months.’
      • ‘Sheep grazed the slopes above them; the descent to the shore ended in a farmyard.’
      • ‘Anyone driving north on the N2 this week should keep their eyes peeled just before the steep descent to the old bridge.’
      • ‘The track rolled down a steep descent and then gathered itself again in tight knots and ruts which led us through a long, spreading puddle to an estate gate.’
      • ‘Arthur's Pass is 920 metres above sea level, and there is a steep descent to Otira in the west.’
      • ‘Eventually with the sun fading and the wind rising we found a steep descent down to pale limestone and black rabbits, and back at the campsite lots more tents.’
      • ‘The descent drops straight into the sump with no place to rest.’
      • ‘It is the steepest descent on the course, and runs for nearly 2 miles.’
      • ‘From the steep descent he turned aside into the deer path by which he had come, and when he reached the beach he paused and turned, raising his eyes up the length of the waterfall to where he thought the rock and the pool might be.’
      • ‘The snow-topped, ice clad giants offer refuge from the daily grind in the form of miles of skiable slopes and long descents.’
      • ‘The descent was not steep at all and I could go down there as well as anyone.’
      • ‘We arrive at a steep descent and he suggests I engage Hill Descent Control, an electronic system that automatically controls the speed of the vehicle as it descends.’
      • ‘The descent is much steeper at only 20 km, with some fast bends at the top changing to tight hairpins at the bottom.’
      • ‘With the skill of a veteran mountaineer, he masterfully accomplishes this task while going down a steep descent.’
      slope, incline, dip, drop, gradient, declivity, declination, slant, downslope, hill
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    2. 1.2 A moral, social, or psychological decline into a specified undesirable state.
      ‘the ancient empire's slow descent into barbarism’
      • ‘The more I think about this, and as I write it, it rather does seem less a quirky singularity, and more of an onrushing descent into a foggy loopiness.’
      • ‘But the sadder scenes were the ones where they shut him in front of a large screen and played him highlights of his career, and excerpts of news footage chronicling the descent into tragedy.’
      • ‘The results are a partial empirical accounting of the ideological developments accompanying the descent into civil war.’
      • ‘The outcome will be a sexual identity free-for-all, and a further descent into a moral vacuum.’
      • ‘It is an overwhelming, confusing, meandering descent into seasonal decline.’
      • ‘The absence of any semblance of discipline is to blame for this descent into moral turpitude.’
      • ‘This descent into enmity is not just one party's fault.’
      • ‘Despite valiant efforts from the cast, the two hours that follow it prove to be nothing more than a descent into the quicksand of mediocrity.’
      • ‘The structural underfunding which caused the gradual descent into debt has not been addressed, although clearly the hope is that there will be some future rectification.’
      • ‘The result has been an unintended descent into confusion.’
      • ‘It reminded me of the descent into cynicism about politics that I still haven't completely shaken.’
      • ‘But wait - the nightmarish descent into the blind refusal of personal responsibility continues apace.’
      • ‘In the process he drove himself to exhaustion, and began a tragic descent into paranoia and self-destruction.’
      • ‘How can the working class, faced with this crisis, defend its social and democratic rights and prevent a descent into war and barbarism?’
      • ‘But even they can't entirely salvage the mixture from a gradual descent into mediocrity.’
      • ‘However, the descent into savagery is opposed by many of the children, recognising it as a construct imposed from above by adults.’
      • ‘It is slightly worrying that I should become obsessed with this again and I think it may signal a descent into nervous break-down.’
      • ‘Miranda's claims of innocence are seen by her friends, colleagues and former patients as the beginnings of a deep descent into madness.’
      • ‘The only alternative to denying responsibility appears to be a complete loss of control - a descent into chaos.’
      • ‘It is a small effort worth making if we want to avoid a descent into widespread anarchy, terrorism, pandemics of global disease, and other avoidable calamities.’
      degeneration, degeneracy, deterioration, decline, sinking, slide, fall, drop, regression, retrogression, debasement, degradation, comedown
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  • 2The origin or background of a person in terms of family or nationality.

    ‘American families of Hungarian descent’
    • ‘Their rulers claimed descent from a common ancestor.’
    • ‘People of African American descent often face challenges when they try to trace their ancestors.’
    • ‘About 40 % can trace an Italian descent, although Spain is considered the mother country.’
    • ‘Today in the United States alone, more than 40 million Americans claim some Irish descent.’
    • ‘Many families of Luxembourger descent today also include traditions from the more mainstream Anglo- and German-American cultures.’
    • ‘They possessed significantly more knowledge of Irish politics and history than those claiming no Irish descent.’
    • ‘Indeed, common place of origin is often connected with genos, one's origins by common descent and parentage.’
    • ‘His mother was of Huguenot descent; his father died six months after his birth.’
    • ‘Partly Spanish by ancestry, he claimed descent on his father's side from the Scottish monarchy.’
    • ‘I had a school friend whose family traced their descent and their identity even further, back to William the Conqueror.’
    • ‘Umbilical hernias occur more often in premature infants and those of African American descent.’
    • ‘Clans are created through common descent from a shared male ancestor.’
    • ‘This story celebrates the families of African descent in North America and the transitions of children spending summers with their elders.’
    • ‘Many others throughout the kingdom assert patrilineal descent from eponymous ancestors from ancient Arab tribes.’
    • ‘The term ‘dynasty’ refers to a succession of kings belonging to one line of family descent.’
    • ‘In these societies, descent is traced through the female side of the family.’
    • ‘A few girls of African American descent were sitting on the front porch.’
    • ‘In the United States, however, only people of Asian Indian descent have retained their unique cultural dress.’
    • ‘Rather, we can entertain common descent from multiple ancestors.’
    • ‘These entries suggest that people of African origins or descent, although very much a minority, were not unusual in sixteenth-century London.’
    ancestry, parentage, ancestors, family
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    1. 2.1 The transmission of qualities, property, or privileges by inheritance.
      • ‘An estate is either ancestral or nonancestral; or, as this court says, there are two modes of acquiring title to property, one by descent or inheritance and the other by purchase or by the act or agreement of the parties.’
      • ‘The civil status of slaves in Tennessee, as well as in other states in which slavery existed, was such as to disable them from inheriting or transmitting property by descent.’
      • ‘Thus, at common law, an alien can acquire or take real or personal property under a will, and may acquire or take personal property by descent.’
      inheritance, passing down, passing on, succession
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  • 3descent onA sudden violent attack.

    ‘a descent on the enemy airstrip’
    • ‘We hear of ambushes, sudden descents on armies still in marching column, and enemies taken by surprise as a result of sudden forced marches, stealthy changes of position, deceptive signals, and deliberate misinformation.’
    • ‘A sudden descent by a Roumanian army into Transylvania on August 30th was hailed as the harbinger of further successes.’
    • ‘He first provided against a sudden descent upon the city by rebuilding the walls of Rome, which remain to this day and are known as the walls of Aurelian.’
    • ‘Any sort of significant expedition meant risking defeat in the field, or a sudden descent on Damietta and loss of the city.’
    attack, assault, raid, onslaught, charge, thrust, push, drive, incursion, foray, sortie, sally, storming, assailing
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Origin

Middle English: from Old French descente, from descendre ‘to descend’ (see descend).

Pronunciation

descent

/dəˈsɛnt//dəˈsent/