Meaning of Heredity

‘Heredity’ is a word that has been derived from the Latin word ‘Hereditas’ which is referred to the traits which have been inherited by the children from their parents.

Heredity is a term that denotes the process through which mental and physical characteristics are being transmitted to the children from their parents at the time of their conception. In particular, children inherit all the ancestral traits which were passed on by their parents through the reproduction process which is known as heredity.

The traits that came from heredity cannot be changed if these traits have been acquired by the children from their parents or ancestors. These traits have always remained present in the person through life since the conception period.

In particular, heredity denotes that a beautiful couple will produce beautiful children and the same goes with the IQ level of their parents passed on to their children. The explanation of the meaning of heredity has been divided into two approaches:

Broad concept

Through this approach, one can understand heredity as the process which brings the mental and behavioral traits of a parent to the child rather than just physical traits. For example, the intellect level, IQ level, temperament, compassion, tidiness, and many more. It is the ‘sum total of inborn individual traits’.

Narrow concept

This concept denotes that a child gets the physical features such as skin color, shape, size, strength, hair, and eyes color from the parents.

Definitions of Heredity by Authors

Douglas and Holland:

“One’s heredity consists of all the structures, physical characteristics, functions or capacities derived from parents, other ancestors or species.”


“Heredity covers all the factors that were present in the individual when he began life, not at birth but the time of conception about nine months before birth.”

Floyd L.Ruch:

“Heredity is the totality of biologically transmitted factors that influence the structure of the body.”

Ruth Benedict:

“Heredity is the transmission of traits from parents to offspring.”


“Heredity refers to the transmission by the parents to their offspring of certain characteristics, biological or psychological.”