Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?


[huh-red-i-tee] /həˈrɛd ɪ ti/
noun, plural heredities. Biology
the transmission of genetic characters from parents to offspring: it is dependent upon the segregation and recombination of genes during meiosis and fertilization and results in the genesis of a new individual similar to others of its kind but exhibiting certain variations resulting from the particular mix of genes and their interactions with the environment.
the genetic characters so transmitted.
Compare congenital.
1530-40; < Middle French heredite < Latin hērēditāt- (stem of hērēditās) inheritance, equivalent to hērēd- (stem of hērēs) heir + -itāt- -ity Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for heredity
  • Tilley credits heredity for her remarkable hands.
  • The prince is next in line to the throne by virtue of heredity.
  • He also explained his data by postulating his two laws of heredity:
  • Discussions about genetics and heredity can be a bit impenetrable to the nonscientist, but these constitute only part of the book.
  • The actual cholesterol levels are determined by a number of factors, including heredity, diet and exercise.
  • The book's strongest parts are on genetics and heredity in the Jewish community.
  • What's been debated endlessly is how much is tied to heredity and how much to environment.
  • He is known as the originator of the germ-plasm theory of heredity.
  • First, Darwin had no knowledge of the mechanism of heredity.
  • The basic unit of heredity is the gene.
British Dictionary definitions for heredity


noun (pl) -ties
the transmission from one generation to another of genetic factors that determine individual characteristics: responsible for the resemblances between parents and offspring
the sum total of the inherited factors or their characteristics in an organism
Word Origin
C16: from Old French heredite, from Latin hērēditās inheritance; see heir
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for heredity

1530s, from Middle French hérédité (12c.), from Latin hereditatem (nominative hereditas) "heirship, inheritance, condition of being an heir," from heres (genitive heredis) "heir, heiress," from PIE root *ghe- "to be empty, left behind" (cf. Greek khera "widow"). Legal sense of "inheritable quality or character" first recorded 1784; the modern biological sense seems to be found first in 1863, introduced by Herbert Spencer.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
heredity in Medicine

heredity he·red·i·ty (hə-rěd'ĭ-tē)

  1. The genetic transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring.

  2. One's genetic constitution.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
heredity in Science
The passage of biological traits or characteristics from parents to offspring through the inheritance of genes.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
heredity in Culture

heredity definition

The passing of characteristics from parents to children. (See genetics.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for heredity

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for heredity

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with heredity

Nearby words for heredity