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

v move downward and lower, but not necessarily all the way

come down, fall, go down
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
to 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

v come as if by falling

fall, settle
go as if by falling
Type of:
come to pass; arrive, as in due course

v come from; be connected by a relationship of blood, for example

“She was descended from an old Italian noble family”
come, derive
come from
come, hail
be a native of

v do something that one considers to be below one's dignity

condescend, deign
Type of:
act, move
perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)

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