General English


  • adjective referring to a genetically controlled characteristic that is passed from parent to offspring


  • adjective handed down, or legally capable of being handed down, through generations by inheritance
  • adjective holding a right, function or property by right of inheritance


  • adjective passed as from parents to children through the genes


  • adjective passed from one member of a family to another

Origin & History of “hereditary”

Latin hērēs ‘heir’ (a relative of Greek khḗra ‘widow’ and Sanskrit - ‘leave, lose’) has been quite a prolific source of English words. For one thing there is heir (13th c.) itself, acquired via Old French heir. And then there are all the derivatives of the Latin stem form hērēd-, including hereditament (15th c.), hereditary, heredity (16th c.), and, via the late Latin verb hērēditāre, heritage (13th c.) and inherit (14th c.).