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From Middle English and Anglo-Norman descente, from Anglo-Norman descendre (to descend); see descend. Compare ascent, ascend. Doublet of desant.



descent (countable and uncountable, plural descents)

  1. An instance of descending; act of coming down.
    We climbed the mountain with difficulty, but the descent was easier.
    • 1947 January and February, O. S. Nock, “"The Aberdonian" in Wartime”, in Railway Magazine, page 7:
      The descent continues, still more steeply to Dundee (Tay Bridge), and approaching from the bridge itself this sharp descent gives the curious appearance that the station is below the level of the firth.
    • 1961 October, 'Voyageur', “The Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway”, in Trains Illustrated, page 601:
      To the north the towering scree-strewn slopes of Saddleback begin to draw nearer as we start the abrupt descent towards Keswick.
    • 2012 July 15, Richard Williams, Tour de France 2012: Carpet tacks cannot force Bradley Wiggins off track[1], Guardian Unlimited:
      The next one surrendered his bike, only for that, too, to give him a second flat as he started the descent.
  2. A way down.
    We had difficulty in finding the correct descent.
  3. A sloping passage or incline.
    The descent into the cavern was wet and slippery.
  4. Lineage or hereditary derivation.
    Our guide was of Welsh descent.
  5. A drop to a lower status or condition; decline. (Can we add an example for this sense?)
    After that, the holiday went into a steep descent.
  6. A falling upon or invasion.
  7. (topology) A particular extension of the idea of gluing.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Sometimes confused with decent.


  • (antonym(s) of going down): ascent

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]