Heredity is the biological process responsible for passing on physical traits from one generation to another. If your mom and dad both have dreamy blue eyes and so do you, then you've got hereditary to thank for your movie-star gaze.

First used in the 1530s, the noun heredity comes from the Latin word hereditatem, meaning "condition of being an heir." It can refer to inheriting characteristics from your parents, or it can refer more broadly to the passing on of genetic factors from one generation to the next. Heredity will determine a person's hair color and height. And due to heredity, some people are more susceptible to diseases and disorders like cancer, alcoholism, and depression.

Definitions of heredity

n the biological process whereby genetic factors are transmitted from one generation to the next

Type of:
biological process, organic process
a process occurring in living organisms

n the total of inherited attributes

genetic endowment
show 5 types...
hide 5 types...
hereditary pattern, inheritance
(genetics) attributes acquired via biological heredity from the parents
ancestry, derivation, filiation, lineage
inherited properties shared with others of your bloodline
gene linkage, linkage
(genetics) traits that tend to be inherited together as a consequence of an association between their genes; all of the genes of a given chromosome are linked (where one goes they all go)
X-linked dominant inheritance
hereditary pattern in which a dominant gene on the X chromosome causes a characteristic to be manifested in the offspring
X-linked recessive inheritance
hereditary pattern in which a recessive gene on the X chromosome results in the manifestation of characteristics in male offspring and a carrier state in female offspring
Type of:
a basic or essential attribute shared by all members of a class

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.