verb (used without object)

  1. to go or pass from a higher to a lower place; move or come down: to descend from the mountaintop.
  2. to pass from higher to lower in any scale or series.
  3. to go from generals to particulars, as in a discussion.
  4. to slope, tend, or lead downward: The path descends to the pond.
  5. to be inherited or transmitted, as through succeeding generations of a family: The title descends through eldest sons.
  6. to have a specific person or family among one’s ancestors (usually followed by from): He is descended from Cromwell.
  7. to be derived from something remote in time, especially through continuous transmission: This festival descends from a druidic rite.
  8. to approach or pounce upon, especially in a greedy or hasty manner (followed by on or upon): Thrill-seekers descended upon the scene of the crime.
  9. to settle, as a cloud or vapor.
  10. to appear or become manifest, as a supernatural being, state of mind, etc.: Jupiter descended to humankind.
  11. to attack, especially with violence and suddenness (usually followed by on or upon): to descend upon enemy soldiers.
  12. to sink or come down from a certain intellectual, moral, or social standard: He would never descend to baseness.
  13. Astronomy. to move toward the horizon, as the sun or a star.

verb (used with object)

  1. to move downward upon or along; go or climb down (stairs, a hill, etc.).
  2. to extend or lead down along: The path descends the hill.

verb (mainly intr)

  1. (also tr) to move, pass, or go down (a hill, slope, staircase, etc)
  2. (of a hill, slope, or path) to lead or extend down; slope; incline
  3. to move to a lower level, pitch, etc; fall
  4. (often foll by from) to be connected by a blood relationship (to a dead or extinct individual, race, species, etc)
  5. to be passed on by parents or ancestors; be inherited
  6. to sink or come down in morals or behaviour; lower oneself
  7. (often foll by on or upon) to arrive or attack in a sudden or overwhelming waytheir relatives descended upon them last week
  8. (of the sun, moon, etc) to move towards the horizon

c.1300, from Old French descendre (10c.) “descend, dismount; fall into; originate in,” from Latin descendere “come down, descend, sink,” from de- “down” (see de-) + scandere “to climb,” from PIE root *skand- “jump” (see scan (v.)). Sense of “originate” is late 14c. in English. Related: Descended; descending.

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