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.