In its simplest sense, descend means to go or move downward, but there are a couple of subtle variations on this theme. Yes, a bird can descend from the sky, but also, humans are descended from prehistoric ancestors.

If you've ever heard a pilot say "prepare for our descent", then you know that only one letter separates the noun descent from the verb descend. They both derive from the same Latin components de, meaning "down," and scandere, "to climb." Similarly, if someone condescends to you, they are said, derogatorily, to be coming down to your level. All Americans are descended from peoples from other continents, such as Europe, Africa, and Asia. We've all "come down" from our ancestors.

Definitions of descend
  1. verb
    move downward and lower, but not necessarily all the way
    synonyms: come down, fall, go down
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    arise, come up, go up, lift, move up, rise, uprise
    move upward
    ascend, go up
    travel up, "We ascended the mountain"
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    slip or fall out of place, as of body parts
    abseil, rappel, rope down
    lower oneself with a rope coiled around the body from a mountainside
    dismount, get down, get off, light, unhorse
    alight from (a horse)
    avalanche, roll down
    gather into a huge mass and roll down a mountain, of snow
    dive, plunge, plunk
    drop steeply
    go down, go under, set
    disappear beyond the horizon
    correct, decline, slump
    go down in value
    fall vertically, sharply, or headlong
    sink, subside
    descend into or as if into some soft substance or place
    fall or come down violently
    fall suddenly and abruptly
    topple, tumble
    fall down, as if collapsing
    fall vertically
    drop with the sound of something falling into water
    fall or plunge forward
    alight, climb down
    come down
    go down, go under, settle, sink
    go under, "The raft sank and its occupants drowned"
    pounce, swoop
    move down on as if in an attack
    fall in drops
    cascade, cascade down
    rush down in big quantities, like a cascade
    make a power dive
    plunge nose first; drop with the nose or front first, of aircraft
    submerge or plunge suddenly
    descend steeply and rapidly
    chute, jump, parachute
    jump from an airplane and descend with a parachute
    keel over
    turn over and fall
    dump, plunge
    fall abruptly
    plummet, plump
    drop sharply
    flump, flump down
    fall heavily
    settle, subside
    sink down or precipitate
    sink below the surface
    submerge, submerse
    sink below the surface; go under or as if under water
    go down
    descend swiftly, as if on prey
    type of:
    go, locomote, move, travel
    change location; move, travel, or proceed, also metaphorically
  2. verb
    come as if by falling
    synonyms: fall, settle
    go as if by falling
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    type of:
    come to pass; arrive, as in due course
  3. verb
    come from; be connected by a relationship of blood, for example
    “She was descended from an old Italian noble family”
    synonyms: come, derive
    come from
    come, hail
    be a native of
  4. verb
    do something that one considers to be below one's dignity
    synonyms: condescend, deign
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    type of:
    act, move
    perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)
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