"Ancestral" means "of or pertaining to an ancestor or ancestors". Is there an adjective which means "of or pertaining to a descendant or descendants"?

"Filial" isn't quite the right word, as it suggests only a single generation's remove.

  • 1
    If you looked in a dictionary, you would see that 'descendant' is an adjective as well, an intercategorial polyseme. Dictionaries point you to the alternative spelling 'descendent'. Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 9:41
  • @ Edwin Ashworth: I'm not sure if it was you who marked me down, but I did look in a dictionary and did see that "descendant" is an adjective as well.But, whereas it makes sense to say that I am living in my ancestral home, I do not think it sounds right to say that I am living in what I hope will be my descendant home. Do you say that using "descendant" to mean "of or pertaining to a descendant or descendants" is idiomatic and/or acceptable usage? Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 10:29
  • Sorry; I was primarily reading the answer below rather than your question in full. The word 'descendent' seems to work both ways, as shown in Josh 61's third quote, but it's not the standard sense, as you correctly point out. This needs all the senses listed by OED; but even if this usage is listed there, not many people would recognise it. Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 12:18
  • Using 'descendant' as an attributive noun would doubtless not be frowned upon by some, and as such could have all sorts of meanings, in particular 'pertaining to a descendant or a line of descendants'. Of course, it gets messy, and could lead to ambiguities. PS I edited only so that I could correct the close-vote. Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 12:27
  • Using progeny as an attributive noun would be probably less likely to result in a misconstrual, but would sound either highbrow or precious. Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 18:10

2 Answers 2


Descendent (adj.) is the term you are looking for:

  • Proceeding by descent from an ancestor.(AHD)
  • (Anthropology & Ethnology) deriving by descent, as from an ancestor. (Collins)

From Doing Business in Europe:

a relative in the ascendent or the descendent line of such a person; person who is related by marriage to such a person in the ascendent or the descendent line...

The variant descendant is also used.

  • 1
    @ Josh61: Thanks for the answer, but I am looking for a word which means, not so much "proceeding by descent" as "of or pertaining to a descendant" - as "filial" can mean "of or pertaining to a son". Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 10:36
  • 2
    @ Irefuteitthus - sort of hereditary?: passed down from one generation to the next.
    – user66974
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 10:39

"Fry lived in his ancestral home. He tripped into a cryogenic freezer for a few centuries. His previous home had gone; his grandson had established a new home which was then passed down through generations. He went to stay there, in his descendral home."

Given that the english dictionary follows english usage rather than defining it, and that in english it is often possible to deduce the meaning of a word without it being explained or looked up, if one were to write 'descendral', the reader would more than likely understand what is meant.

(YOLO was a word before the dictionary acknowledged it to be)

  • Its now in commercial sourcecode. The convention of 'descendent' being noun and 'descendant' being adjective is not observed by all, and its too prone to typos
    – xxjjnn
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 10:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.