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[in-her-i-tuh ns] /ɪnˈhɛr ɪ təns/
something that is or may be inherited; property passing at the owner's death to the heir or those entitled to succeed; legacy.
the genetic characters transmitted from parent to offspring, taken collectively.
something, as a quality, characteristic, or other immaterial possession, received from progenitors or predecessors as if by succession:
an inheritance of family pride.
the act or fact of inheriting by succession, as if by succession, or genetically:
to receive property by inheritance.
portion; birthright; heritage:
Absolute rule was considered the inheritance of kings.
Obsolete. right of possession; ownership.
Origin of inheritance
1375-1425; Middle English enheritance < Anglo-French. See inherit, -ance
Related forms
preinheritance, noun
1. patrimony; bequest. Inheritance, heritage denote something inherited. Inheritance is the common term for property or any possession that comes to an heir: He received the farm as an inheritance from his parents. Heritage indicates something that is bequeathed to a subsequent generation by an individual or by society: our cultural heritage from Greece and Rome. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for inheritance


  1. hereditary succession to an estate, title, etc
  2. the right of an heir to succeed to property on the death of an ancestor
  3. something that may legally be transmitted to an heir
the act of inheriting
something inherited; heritage
the derivation of characteristics of one generation from an earlier one by heredity
(obsolete) hereditary rights
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 inheritance

late 14c., enheritaunce "fact of receiving by hereditary succession;" early 15c. as "that which is inherited," from Anglo-French enheritance, Old French enheritaunce, from enheriter (see inherit). Heritance "act of inheriting" is from mid-15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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inheritance in Medicine

inheritance in·her·i·tance (ĭn-hěr'ĭ-təns)

  1. The process of genetic transmission of traits from parents to offspring.

  2. A characteristic so inherited.

  3. The sum of characteristics genetically transmitted from parents to offspring.

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