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Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for descend in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)


From Middle English decenden, borrowed from Old French descendre, from Latin descendere, past participle descensus (to come down, go down, fall, sink), from de- (down) + scandere (to climb). See scan, scandent. Compare ascend, condescend, transcend.


  • IPA(key): /dɪˈsɛnd/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation (US): de‧scend; (UK): des‧cend


descend (third-person singular simple present descends, present participle descending, simple past and past participle descended)

  1. (intransitive) To pass from a higher to a lower place; to move downwards; to come or go down in any way, as by falling, flowing, walking, etc.; to plunge; to fall; to incline downward
    The rain descended, and the floods came. Matthew vii. 25.
    We will here descend to matters of later date. Fuller.
  2. (intransitive, poetic) To enter mentally; to retire.
    [He] with holiest meditations fed, Into himself descended. John Milton.
  3. (intransitive, with on or upon) To make an attack, or incursion, as if from a vantage ground; to come suddenly and with violence.
    And on the suitors let thy wrath descend. Alexander Pope.
  4. (intransitive) To come down to a lower, less fortunate, humbler, less virtuous, or worse, state or station; to lower or abase oneself
    he descended from his high estate
  5. (intransitive) To pass from the more general or important to the particular or less important matters to be considered.
  6. (intransitive) To come down, as from a source, original, or stock; to be derived; to proceed by generation or by transmission; to fall or pass by inheritance.
    the beggar may descend from a prince
    a crown descends to the heir
  7. (intransitive, astronomy) To move toward the south, or to the southward.
  8. (intransitive, music) To fall in pitch; to pass from a higher to a lower tone.
  9. (transitive) To go down upon or along; to pass from a higher to a lower part of
    they descended the river in boats; to descend a ladder
    But never tears his cheek descended. Byron.



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  1. third-person singular present indicative of descendre