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descent definition


This page has 7 definitions of descent in English. Descent is a noun. Examples of how to use descent in a sentence are shown. Also define these 18 related words and terms: descending, Keswick, way, down, sloping, passage, incline, lineage, hereditary, derivation, drop, lower, status, condition, decline, topology, extension, and gluing.



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.
    • 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 in Guardian Unlimited, Tour de France 2012: Carpet tacks cannot force Bradley Wiggins off track
      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.
    • Sloping definition
      Having a slope.
    • Passage definition
      Describing a bird that has left the nest, is living on its own, but is less than a year old. (commonly used in falconry)
  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. See Descent (mathematics).

Usage notes

  • Sometimes confused with decent.


Derived terms

Related terms


Further reading