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Descendant (female: descendant), descendant ( s ), descendant or descendant denotes an individual in biology that arises during the reproduction of living beings - in humans, a child or its child .

In technical terms, the descendants are referred to as descent ( Latin "descending, descending") - their opposite is the ascendency ("ascending, preceding"): the ancestry of an individual. Unlike the biological lineages of progeny have human societies different cultural origin rules that determine whether a child as a descendant of parent and is seen father, or whether only the fathers side or the mothers side Ethnicity counts.

In the European cultural area , the rule of descent from both parents ( cognatic-bilateral ) applies , as in most highly industrialized societies; this rule is also followed by around 30% of the world's 1,300  ethnic groups and indigenous peoples . In addition, there are legal forms of offspring, for example the adoption of a person "instead of a child", acknowledgment of paternity or a birth after egg donation by someone else .

In German inheritance law , the descendants of a deceased person (the physical heirs ) form the so-called “1. Order “of the legal succession , if no will was left ( will or inheritance contract ).

In genealogy (family history research) the descendants of a person are shown in a list of descendants or descendants : the children are followed by grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren and so on in descending order (see generation names ). The Guinness World Records lists seven surviving generations of a straight line , in 2013, six were detected: A 86-year-old Canadian witnessed the birth of their biological Urururenkels, whose great-grandmother she is.

See also


  • Wolfgang Kraus: On the concept of descent: a selective overview. In: Anthropos. Volume 92, 1997, pp. 139-163 ( preview at JSTOR ).

Web links

Wiktionary: Descendant  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Duden online : Descendants: "Living beings (especially human beings) that descend in a straight line from another living being [...] Origin: Middle High German nāchkome , also = successor". Ibid: descendants: "female form to descendants [...] plural: the descendants". Ibid: descendant: "Related form: descendant - meaning: descendant [...] Origin: Middle High German nāchvar ". Note: The Duden explains about ancestor: "Origin: Middle High German vorvar , 2nd component Middle High German -var , Old High German -faro = traveler, originally = predecessor (e.g. in office)". All accessed on November 6, 2019.
  2. ^ J. Patrick Gray: Ethnographic Atlas Codebook. In: World Cultures. Volume 10, No. 1, 1998, pp. 86-136, here p. 104: Table 43 Descent: Major Type ( PDF file: 2.4 MB, 52 pages: without page numbers ); one of the few evaluations of all 1267 ethnic groups recorded worldwide at that time: "584 patrilineal [...] 160 matrilineal [...] 349 bilateral" (= 46.1% patrilineal; 12.6% matrilineal; 27.6% cognatic-bilateral). The basic Ethnographic Atlas now covers 1,300 ethnic groups and indigenous peoples worldwide (status 2018 in InterSciWiki ); it serves the holistic cultural comparison of the peoples, z. B. in the international HRAF project .
  3. Guinness Book of Records : Most living generations ever. In: Retrieved on November 6, 2019 (English, unfortunately without photo): “1989: The most generations alive in a single family has been seven. […] Augusta Bunge (USA) aged 109 years […] “ .
  4. Gerd Braune: Ottawa: Six generations live in a Canadian family. In: Badische Zeitung . July 19, 2013, accessed November 6, 2019 (with photo): “Baby Ethan is the youngest member of the Steiner family in Mississauga near Toronto. It is believed to be the only family in Canada that has six generations. […] Doreen Byers, who has been great-great-great-grandmother since the weekend, is 86 years old […] ” .