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From Middle English enheriten, from Old French enheriter, from Late Latin inhereditare (make heir). Displaced native Old English ierfan.


  • IPA(key): /ɪnˈhɛɹɪt/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛɹɪt


inherit (third-person singular simple present inherits, present participle inheriting, simple past and past participle inherited)

  1. (transitive) To take possession of as a right (especially in Biblical translations).
    Your descendants will inherit the earth.
  2. (transitive) To receive (property, a title, etc.), by legal succession or bequest after the previous owner's death.
    After Grandad died, I inherited the house.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 5, in The China Governess[1]:
      ‘It's rather like a beautiful Inverness cloak one has inherited. Much too good to hide away, so one wears it instead of an overcoat and pretends it's an amusing new fashion.’
  3. (transitive, biology) To receive a characteristic from one's ancestors by genetic transmission.
    Let's hope the baby inherits his mother's looks and his father's intelligence.
  4. (transitive) To derive from people or conditions previously in force.
    This country has inherited an invidious class culture.
  5. (intransitive) To come into an inheritance.
    Lucky old Daniel – his grandfather died rich, and he's inherited.
  6. (computing, programming, transitive) To derive (existing functionality) from a superclass.
    ModalWindow inherits all the properties and methods of Window.
  7. (computing, programming, transitive) To derive a new class from (a superclass).
    • 2006, Daniel Solis, Illustrated C# 2005:
      For example, the following two code segments, from different assemblies, show how easy it is to inherit a class from another assembly.
  8. (transitive, obsolete) To put in possession of.

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