Definition of heritable in English:


Pronunciation /ˈherədəb(ə)l/ /ˈhɛrədəb(ə)l/


  • 1Biology
    (of a characteristic) transmissible from parent to offspring.

    ‘intelligence is to some degree heritable’
    • ‘The basic idea of natural selection is that a population of organisms can change over the generations if individuals having certain heritable traits leave more offspring than other individuals.’
    • ‘This is hardly surprising, but it was also found that age at first reproduction is a heritable characteristic.’
    • ‘In it he predicted that a large molecule carrying a genetic code would explain heritable characteristics.’
    • ‘I assume that male quality is a heritable trait that determines female fitness from mating.’
    • ‘One of the long-discussed questions of evolutionary biology is whether new heritable traits originate spontaneously and independently from the influence of external conditions.’
  • 2Law
    (of property) capable of being inherited by heirs-at-law.

    Compare with movable (sense 2 of the adjective)

    ‘heritable property was excluded from the valuation’
    • ‘The Church of Scotland Trust is undertaking a review of all heritable property owned or leased on behalf of the Church of Scotland outwith Scotland.’
    • ‘There is now a balance of fully L200,000 of cash in the hands of the managers, besides the immense stock of materials, and goods, and heritable property, all paid for, and the goods daily going off in great abundance.’
    • ‘In practice, these estates were only rarely intended to become the heritable property of daughters or female relatives.’
    • ‘Nobody has suggested that a ship is prima facie heritable and I do not think such a suggestion could reasonably be made.’
    • ‘In the Highlands, however, the system of heritable jurisdictions was intertwined with a distinctive set of social arrangements.’


Late Middle English from Old French heriter ‘inherit’, from ecclesiastical Latin hereditare, from Latin heres, hered- ‘heir’.