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[dih-send] /dɪˈsɛnd/
verb (used without object)
to go or pass from a higher to a lower place; move or come down:
to descend from the mountaintop.
to pass from higher to lower in any scale or series.
to go from generals to particulars, as in a discussion.
to slope, tend, or lead downward:
The path descends to the pond.
to be inherited or transmitted, as through succeeding generations of a family:
The title descends through eldest sons.
to have a specific person or family among one's ancestors (usually followed by from):
He is descended from Cromwell.
to be derived from something remote in time, especially through continuous transmission:
This festival descends from a druidic rite.
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.
to settle, as a cloud or vapor.
to appear or become manifest, as a supernatural being, state of mind, etc.:
Jupiter descended to humankind.
to attack, especially with violence and suddenness (usually followed by on or upon):
to descend upon enemy soldiers.
to sink or come down from a certain intellectual, moral, or social standard:
He would never descend to baseness.
Astronomy. to move toward the horizon, as the sun or a star.
verb (used with object)
to move downward upon or along; go or climb down (stairs, a hill, etc.).
to extend or lead down along:
The path descends the hill.
Origin of descend
1250-1300; Middle English descenden < Old French descendre < Latin dēscendere, equivalent to dē- de- + -scendere, combining form of scandere to climb; cf. scansion
Related forms
descendingly, adverb
predescend, verb
redescend, verb
undescended, adjective
undescending, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for descend
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You descend in an express elevator car; in that bucket you just drop.

    The Modern Railroad Edward Hungerford
  • With a lowering face he watched her descend and, his hand on the newel, confronted her.

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • "Then we must walk," said Lady Idleways; and she bade Laura descend also from the carriage.

    The Princess Idleways Mrs. W. J. Hayes
  • The explosion had blown in the wall and cut off the only path by which they could descend.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • This is repeated again and again, and at last the sun begins to descend.

    My Attainment of the Pole Frederick A. Cook
British Dictionary definitions for descend


verb (mainly intransitive)
(also transitive) to move, pass, or go down (a hill, slope, staircase, etc)
(of a hill, slope, or path) to lead or extend down; slope; incline
to move to a lower level, pitch, etc; fall
(often foll by from) to be connected by a blood relationship (to a dead or extinct individual, race, species, etc)
to be passed on by parents or ancestors; be inherited
to sink or come down in morals or behaviour; lower oneself
often foll by on or upon. to arrive or attack in a sudden or overwhelming way: their relatives descended upon them last week
(of the sun, moon, etc) to move towards the horizon
Derived Forms
descendable, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French descendre, from Latin dēscendere, from de- + scandere to climb; see scan
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for descend

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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