Definition of heredity in English:



  • 1The passing on of physical or mental characteristics genetically from one generation to another.

    ‘few scientists dispute that heredity can create a susceptibility to alcoholism’
    • ‘So, thousands of years before Gregor Mendel postulated his theories on genetics and heredity, indigenous Americans were breeding corn to select for desirable traits.’
    • ‘Indeed, it formed the basis for the Mendelian chromosome theory of heredity and ultimately the theory of the gene.’
    • ‘Fertilization therefore results in an egg carrying a nucleus with contributions from both parents, and it was concluded that the cell nucleus must contain the physical basis of heredity.’
    • ‘Genes are the physical units of heredity and are located along each chromosome in the cells of the human body.’
    • ‘Long before we knew anything about the physical basis of heredity, factors or genes were identified in terms of their functional or phenotypic effects.’
    • ‘In black rats, resistance was supposed to be multifactorial, judging from its unstable heredity.’
    • ‘By the age of nineteen, in 1909, Muller had already become committed to genetics and to the chromosome theory of heredity.’
    • ‘At one extreme, advocates of nature contend that intelligence is a function of heredity of genetics; you are either smart or not.’
    • ‘The units of heredity, or genes, are DNA sequences that code for the synthesis of proteins.’
    • ‘These two ardent atheists are being honored this year on the 50th anniversary of their discovery of the double helix structure of the molecule of heredity, DNA.’
    • ‘According to Doctor Robert Mtonga, a health practitioner, obesity can come as a result of nutritional habits or in some cases it is due to heredity in families.’
    • ‘At the time of your birth, in 1946, the scientific community was not yet generally aware that our heredity is stored in sequences of ‘letters’ within the chemical called DNA.’
    • ‘For decades now, psychologists and geneticists alike have thought of heredity and environment as interactive - hence, the title of this article.’
    • ‘Their biology teacher has just given them an assignment about genes and heredity, expecting them to pass a five-page term paper by Wednesday.’
    • ‘When asked about the role of heredity in the Wyeth-Hurd family, Michael believes strongly that it plays an unquestionably vital part in producing artists.’
    • ‘Billed as ‘an animated primer on the basics of DNA, genes, and heredity,’ the site is also a wonderful place to learn about the men and women who made the key discoveries.’
    • ‘On the one hand, his excursions into the mechanics of heredity and population genetics provide a valuable background for his rejection of racial and eugenic theories.’
    • ‘Rollin's delightful playfulness came out often in the most serious contexts, and I cannot resist describing something he said at the 1963 symposium on the control of human heredity.’
    • ‘As the ultimate failed father, David Banner exemplifies the personification of heredity, of the passing down of not only mental and physical but even genetic imprints from father to child.’
    • ‘Moreover, Watson is among the many geneticists who see heredity as the source of most social problems and who believe the solutions are to be found in genetic research.’
    congenital characteristics, congenital traits, genetics, genetic make-up, genes
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A person's ancestry.
      ‘he wears a Cossack tunic to emphasize his Russian heredity’
      • ‘Data mining capabilities will allow physicians to study the effects of environment, heredity and lifestyle on breast cancer.’
      • ‘Boyishly reared by an emancipated mother and a suicidal father, she is the victim of heredity, environment and her own anachronistic position as an outsider in the new socialist England.’
      • ‘Energy expenditure is influenced by heredity; age; sex; body size; fat-free mass; and the intensity, frequency, and duration of exercise.’
      • ‘Many other factors can lead to and exacerbate health problems, including heredity, family eating habits and a lack of exercise, he said.’
      • ‘Bone loss from the osteoporotic condition can result in a healthy population for a variety of reasons, including insufficient dietary intake, pollutants, toxins, menopause, lack of physical activity and heredity.’
      • ‘And all questioned whether it was one thing or many, produced by heredity or environment, and shared with animals or uniquely human.’
      • ‘Individual natal astrology constitutes the third division where, like Ptolemy, al-Biruni was fully aware that considerations of heredity and environment should modify any astrological indications.’
      • ‘The argument for heredity having a relatively strong influence on this disease rests primarily in studies involving families, adoptees and twins.’
      • ‘He did something about it: knowing that he could not change his heredity and genes, he transformed his lifestyle instead.’
      • ‘Some of the factors influencing heart disease are high fat diets, cigarette smoking, lack of exercise, stress, not controlling diabetes or high blood pressure, obesity and heredity.’
      • ‘Presumably, it is partially influenced by heredity.’
      • ‘The individual human becomes an ethical person by means of two primary mechanisms: heredity and environmental influences.’
      • ‘That's the implication from one of the largest ever studies comparing the influence of environment and heredity on cancer incidence.’
      • ‘The manner in which someone ages depends almost entirely on factors relating to heredity, physical and mental health, and nutrition.’
      • ‘No studies on the respective roles of heredity and environment on the chemotype expression were performed.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, relative influences of heredity and environment on many behaviors remain obscure.’
      • ‘Peak bone density is heavily influenced by heredity, nutrition, hormonal effects, and environment.’
      • ‘If the development of a certain disease is due to heredity, then genetic researchers would expect more of the identical twins to share the disease as compared to the same-sex fraternal twins.’
      • ‘He said that while there are a few indigenous reasons like genes, heredity etc for obesity, there are more exogenous reasons for the problem.’
      • ‘I do not pretend to know why the documentation of unbroken heredity through generations of forebears brings us so swiftly to tears and to such a secure sense of rightness, definition, membership, and meaning.’
      ancestors, forebears, forefathers, progenitors, antecedents
      View synonyms
  • 2The inheritance of a title, office, or right.

    ‘membership is largely based on heredity’
    • ‘Neither could have inherited by heredity alone, since it was not clear that a woman was allowed to succeed, and both were illegitimate under English law.’
    • ‘If our patriotism is refracted through a system based on hierarchy and heredity, it affects the way we see our country in subtle ways.’
    • ‘The social position of each individual is fixed by heredity and not by personal qualifications and material considerations.’
    • ‘In the highly traditional society which existed in medieval England, a society bound by ties of blood and heredity, wealth and landholding alone were not enough to make a man noble - at least in the eyes of his contemporaries.’
    • ‘Power in the Mamluk realm was not based on heredity.’
    • ‘Under these arrangements, the king received money in return for granting tenure, heredity, and free disposal of their offices to his judges and other servants.’
    • ‘His view is simple: all real power must stay in the Commons - a laudable idea when the second chamber is a mix of heredity and appointment, but indefensible where it is democratically elected.’
    • ‘Mohawk may have overstated the case for Native democracy, since heredity played a major role in office-holding in many Indian societies.’
    • ‘And yet, the introduction of pluralistic democracy itself is a clear break with the past - a break from systems in which rights over others are based on gender, class, tribal affiliation or heredity.’
    • ‘But this doctrine that souls are acquired by heredity carried more physical implications than at least some Platonists could feel at ease with.’
    • ‘There is no longer venality or heredity of public office.’
    • ‘Strictly, a scion in terms of human heredity is the descendant of a noble or storied lineage, whereas what is significant about the subject of the article is the specific circumstance of her conception.’


Late 18th century: from French hérédité, from Latin hereditas ‘heirship’, from heres, hered- ‘heir’.