If you’re on your way down, you’re making a descent, whether that’s as a passenger in an airplane that's landing, or if you’re tumbling down a staircase you just slipped on.

Descent comes from the verb descend — to go down. In the original Latin meaning, descent was used spatially, in reference to physical action, like going downstairs into a creepy basement. Metaphorically, though, we also use it to describe origins, especially in ancestry, when we consider ourselves descendants of our forebears.

Definitions of descent

n a movement downward

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drop, fall
a free and rapid descent by the force of gravity
descent of the uterus into the pelvic cavity that occurs late in pregnancy; the fetus is said to have dropped
the descent of a heavenly body below the horizon
cascade, shower
a sudden downpour (as of tears or sparks etc) likened to a rain shower
a descent as through liquid (especially through water)
(geology) the descent of a large mass of earth or rocks or snow etc.
settling, subsidence, subsiding
a gradual sinking to a lower level
free fall
the ideal falling motion of something subject only to a gravitational field
immersion, submergence, submerging, submersion
sinking until covered completely with water
foundering, going under
(of a ship) sinking
a slide of large masses of snow and ice and mud down a mountain
landslide, landslip
a slide of a large mass of dirt and rock down a mountain or cliff
a steep and rapid fall
the act of casting down or falling headlong from a height
Type of:
change of location, travel
a movement through space that changes the location of something

n the act of changing your location in a downward direction

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jump, parachuting
descent with a parachute
dive, nose dive, nosedive
a steep nose-down descent by an aircraft
abseil, rappel
(mountaineering) a descent of a vertical cliff or wall made by using a doubled rope that is fixed to a higher point and wrapped around the body
a swift descent through the air
crash dive
a rapid descent by a submarine
the act of dropping something
collapse, flop
the act of throwing yourself down
performing acrobatics in free fall before pulling the ripcord of a parachute
power dive
a dive of an airplane that is accelerated both by gravity and by the power of the engine
Type of:
motion, move, movement
the act of changing location from one place to another

n a downward slope or bend

declension, declination, decline, declivity, downslope, fall
acclivity, ascent, climb, raise, rise, upgrade
an upward slope or grade (as in a road)
the downward slope of a hill
a steep place (as on a hill)
Type of:
incline, side, slope
an elevated geological formation

n properties attributable to your ancestry

extraction, origin
full blood
descent from parents both of one pure breed
Type of:
ancestry, derivation, filiation, lineage
inherited properties shared with others of your bloodline

n the kinship relation between an individual and the individual's progenitors

filiation, line of descent, lineage
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bilateral descent
line of descent traced through both the maternal and paternal sides of the family
unilateral descent
line of descent traced through one side of the family
cognation, enation, matrilineage
line of descent traced through the maternal side of the family
agnation, patrilineage
line of descent traced through the paternal side of the family
Type of:
family relationship, kinship, relationship
(anthropology) relatedness or connection by blood or marriage or adoption

n the descendants of one individual

ancestry, blood, blood line, bloodline, line, line of descent, lineage, origin, parentage, pedigree, stemma, stock
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family, family line, folk, kinfolk, kinsfolk, phratry, sept
people descended from a common ancestor
a family line of descent
members of a family line
the people of your home locality (especially your own family)
aristocratic family line
a sequence of powerful leaders in the same family
gens, name
family based on male descent
Type of:
family tree, genealogy
successive generations of kin

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