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[huh-red-i-tee] /həˈrɛd ɪ ti/
noun, plural heredities. Biology.
the transmission of genetic characters from parents to offspring: it is dependent upon the segregation and recombination of genes during meiosis and fertilization and results in the genesis of a new individual similar to others of its kind but exhibiting certain variations resulting from the particular mix of genes and their interactions with the environment.
the genetic characters so transmitted.
Compare congenital.
Origin of heredity
1530-40; < Middle French heredite < Latin hērēditāt- (stem of hērēditās) inheritance, equivalent to hērēd- (stem of hērēs) heir + -itāt- -ity Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for heredity
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • By heredity and discipline all minds are shaped to this great hour.

    Ballads of a Bohemian Robert W. Service
  • We see that the heredity relation is an extremely complex affair.

    The Truth About Woman C. Gasquoine Hartley
  • Questions of heredity, procreation and education will be dealt with calmly and freely.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • I agree that a man cannot for long conceal his true nature; we are what we are by heredity.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • He was one of those frequent cases which give the lie to the laws of heredity.

  • There was no link wanting; the chain of heredity, logical and implacable, was unbroken.

    Doctor Pascal Emile Zola
  • It grows out of the biological discussion of instinct, heredity, etc.

    College Teaching Paul Klapper
  • It was the success in Composition which tickled his father's pride, for was not this a proof of heredity?

    A Great Man Arnold Bennett
British Dictionary definitions for heredity


noun (pl) -ties
the transmission from one generation to another of genetic factors that determine individual characteristics: responsible for the resemblances between parents and offspring
the sum total of the inherited factors or their characteristics in an organism
Word Origin
C16: from Old French heredite, from Latin hērēditās inheritance; see heir
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for heredity

1530s, from Middle French hérédité (12c.), from Latin hereditatem (nominative hereditas) "heirship, inheritance, condition of being an heir," from heres (genitive heredis) "heir, heiress," from PIE root *ghe- "to be empty, left behind" (cf. Greek khera "widow"). Legal sense of "inheritable quality or character" first recorded 1784; the modern biological sense seems to be found first in 1863, introduced by Herbert Spencer.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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heredity in Medicine

heredity he·red·i·ty (hə-rěd'ĭ-tē)

  1. The genetic transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring.

  2. One's genetic constitution.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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heredity in Science
The passage of biological traits or characteristics from parents to offspring through the inheritance of genes.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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heredity in Culture

heredity definition

The passing of characteristics from parents to children. (See genetics.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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