Open main menu




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
  • Rhymes: -ɛnd


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.
    We will here descend to matters of later date. (Can we date this quote by Fuller?)
  2. (intransitive, poetic) To enter mentally; to retire.
  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. (Can we date this quote by 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. (Can we date this quote by Byron?)



Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit