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in anthropology, method of classifying individuals in terms of their various kinship connections. Matrilineal and patrilineal descent refer to the mother's or father's sib (or other group), respectively. Bilateral descent refers to descent derived from both sibs equally. Descent groups are of basic significance in the social structure of most nonindustrial societies. They constitute a series of social groups that dominate the domestic organization and the process of socialization, the use and transfer of property, the settlement of disputes, religious activities such as ancestor worship, and certain political relationships. Some lineage systems extend to the limits of the society itself. The Tiv of E Nigeria, for example, all consider themselves descendants in the male line of an eponymous ancestor, and the genealogy of this progeny defines the complete outline of descent group structure.


(ANTHROPOLOGY) the means by which individuals are allocated to specific ancestral groups. If a society has descent rules, they will specify the basis of the construction of LINEAGES, with all the rights and obligations which go with such membership. Descent may be based on PATRILINEAL, MATRILINEAL, BILATERAL or NON-UNILINEAL principles, and its discussion was central to postwar British SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY.



in astronautics, the downward trajectory of a spacecraft or descent vehicle through dense layers of an atmosphere or in a vacuum prior to landing on the surface of a celestial body. During descent onto the surface of a planet that possesses an atmosphere, the velocity of a spacecraft is reduced by any force of resistance to the spacecraft’s motion, for example, by aerodynamic drag. Descent with atmospheric braking is most useful for landing spacecraft on the surface of a planet with a rather dense atmosphere. In this case, only a descent vehicle is usually involved, not the entire spacecraft. Atmospheric braking reduces the velocity of the descent vehicle to 150–250 m/sec. Further deceleration and the landing are usually accomplished by means of parachute and other braking systems.

Descent with atmospheric braking may have either a ballistic or a glide trajectory. During a glide descent, the descent vehicle is subject to lift as well as the force of gravity and any resistance forces. The vehicle is subjected to less load in a glide descent than in a ballistic descent, and maneuvering is also possible. If descent in the atmosphere is not preceded by retrorocket braking—using a rocket engine that generates thrust opposite in direction to the motion of the spacecraft—the spacecraft will enter the atmosphere with a high velocity (of the order of orbital velocity for a spacecraft orbiting relatively near a planet or escape velocity for a spacecraft approaching a planet from a great distance). In this case, deceleration is accompanied by overloads and heating of the spacecraft. The reduction of these and other effects at velocities greater than orbital velocity is possible only in a controlled descent or as a result of gradual braking of the landing craft upon multiple passes of the craft through the atmosphere of the planet. Retrorocket braking is used for the descent of a spacecraft onto a celestial body without an atmosphere.

The first return to earth at orbital velocity after an orbital flight was accomplished by the American satellite Discoverer 13 on Aug. 11,1960. The first earth landing of a satellite after an orbital flight was accomplished by the second Soviet orbital spacecraft on Aug. 20, 1960. The first return to earth of a spacecraft with escape velocity was accomplished by the American spacecraft Apollo 4 on Nov. 9, 1967, and the first return to earth of a spacecraft with escape velocity after orbiting the moon was accomplished by the Soviet spacecraft Zond 5 on Sept. 21,1968 (ballistic descent). The first descent and landing on a celestial body when lacking an atmosphere was accomplished on Feb. 3, 1966, when the Soviet space probe Luna 9 landed on the moon. The first descent from escape velocity in the atmosphere of another planet (Venus) was accomplished by the Soviet space probe Venera 4 on Oct. 18, 1967. The first landing on another planet (Venus) was achieved by the Soviet space probe Venera 7 on Dec. 15, 1970, and the first descent and landing on Mars was accomplished by the Soviet space probe Mars 3 on Dec. 2, 1971.

What does it mean when you dream about a descent?

A dream of descending in an elevator—or by any other means—may indicate a decline in energy or status. Alternatively, it may symbolize descent into the unconscious in a journey of self-discovery.


(aerospace engineering)
Motion of a craft in which the path is inclined with respect to the horizontal.


1. derivation from an ancestor or ancestral group; lineage
2. (in genealogy) a generation in a particular lineage
3. Property law (formerly) the transmission of real property to the heir on an intestacy
References in classic literature ?
There was another interval of utter insensibility; it was brief; for, upon again lapsing into life there had been no perceptible descent in the pendulum.
I dwelt upon it with a pertinacity of attention -- as if, in so dwelling, I could arrest here the descent of the steel.
A hoarse shout of disgust greeted the descent of the grapnel-rope and the swift leap of the balloon, and something--he fancied afterwards it was a turnip--whizzed by his head.
He was now very distinctly aware that the world below him, so far from being the naive countryside of his earlier imaginings that day, sleepily unconscious of him and capable of being amazed and nearly reverential at his descent, was acutely irritated by his career, and extremely impatient with the course he was taking.
Either the wooden horse was careless, or it failed to properly time the descent of the hammer, for the mighty weapon caught it squarely upon its head, and thumped it against the ground so powerfully that the private flew off its back high into the air, and landed upon one of the giant's cast-iron arms.
back to a common parent from which three main families are derived (M had a separate descent and is not included in any family): --
As in each fully stocked country natural selection necessarily acts by the selected form having some advantage in the struggle for life over other forms, there will be a constant tendency in the improved descendants of any one species to supplant and exterminate in each stage of descent their predecessors and their original parent.
Strait of Magellan -- Port Famine -- Ascent of Mount Tarn -- Forests -- Edible Fungus -- Zoology -- Great Sea-weed -- Leave Tierra del Fuego -- Climate -- Fruit-trees and Productions of the Southern Coasts -- Height of Snow-line on the Cordillera -- Descent of Glaciers to the Sea -- Icebergs formed -- Transportal of Boulders -- Climate and Productions of the Antarctic Islands -- Preservation of Frozen Carcasses -- Recapitulation.
For fifteen feet the two fell, Tarzan's teeth buried in the jugular of his opponent, when a stout branch stopped their descent.
You are to remember that I knew no more of my descent than any cadger's dog; my uncle, to be sure, had prated of some of our high connections, but nothing to the present purpose; and there was nothing left me but that bitter disgrace of owning that I could not tell.
I heard of the division of property, of immense wealth and squalid poverty, of rank, descent, and noble blood.
Traces of the French descent which the widow boasted of were apparent in Winnie too.