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
  1. noun
    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, 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
  2. noun
    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
  3. noun
    a downward slope or bend
    synonyms: declension, declination, decline, declivity, downslope, fall
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    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
  4. noun
    properties attributable to your ancestry
    synonyms: extraction, origin
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    full blood
    descent from parents both of one pure breed
    type of:
    ancestry, derivation, filiation, lineage
    inherited properties shared with others of your bloodline
  5. noun
    the kinship relation between an individual and the individual's progenitors
    synonyms: 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
  6. noun
    the descendants of one individual
    synonyms: 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
Commonly confused words

decent / descent / dissent

Decent is all buttoned up. Descent has all the fun because it gets to climb down a mountain. Dissent is what you do when the glee club wants to get matching red outfits but you like purple.

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