1. passing, or capable of passing, naturally from parent to offspring through the genes: Blue eyes are hereditary in our family.Compare congenital.
  2. of or relating to inheritance or heredity: a hereditary title.
  3. existing by reason of feeling, opinions, or prejudices held by predecessors: a hereditary enemy.
  4. Law.
    1. descending by inheritance.
    2. transmitted or transmissible in the line of descent by force of law.
    3. holding title, rights, etc., by inheritance: a hereditary proprietor.
  5. Mathematics.
    1. (of a collection of sets) signifying that each subset of a set in the collection is itself a set in the collection.
    2. of or relating to a mathematical property, as containing a greatest integer, applicable to every subset of a set that has the property.


  1. of, relating to, or denoting factors that can be transmitted genetically from one generation to another
  2. law
    1. descending or capable of descending to succeeding generations by inheritance
    2. transmitted or transmissible according to established rules of descent
  3. derived from one’s ancestors; traditionalhereditary feuds
  4. maths logic
    1. (of a set) containing all those elements which have a given relation to any element of the set
    2. (of a property) transferred by the given relation, so that if x has the property P and xRy, then y also has the property P

early 15c., hereditarie, from Latin hereditarius, from hereditas (see heredity).


  1. Transmitted or capable of being transmitted genetically from parent to offspring.

  1. Passed or capable of being passed from parent to offspring by means of genes.

A descriptive term for conditions capable of being transmitted from parent to offspring through the genes. The term hereditary is applied to diseases such as hemophilia and characteristics such as the tendency toward baldness that pass from parents to children.

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