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Hereditary vs. Heredity — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Maham Liaqat — Updated on May 8, 2024
Hereditary refers to the genetic transmission of traits from parents to offspring, while heredity is the biological process through which these traits are passed down.
Hereditary vs. Heredity — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Hereditary and Heredity


Key Differences

Hereditary is an adjective describing traits or conditions that are passed from parents to their offspring through genes, whereas heredity is a noun that refers to the overall genetic mechanism of this transmission.
Traits that are hereditary, such as eye color or genetic disorders, are concrete manifestations of heredity, which encompasses the entire genetic framework of inheritance, including dominant and recessive gene behaviors.
Hereditary can be used to describe specific genetic characteristics or diseases that are inherited, emphasizing the result of heredity, while heredity itself is the study and science of how these genetic traits are transmitted.
The discussion of something being hereditary often arises in medical, genetic, and family history contexts, focusing on the outcomes of genetic inheritance, whereas discussions of heredity are more common in genetics, biology, and educational settings, dealing with the processes and principles.
Legal and social contexts may also refer to hereditary titles or roles, illustrating a broader usage outside of biology, while heredity strictly pertains to biological inheritance and its scientific implications.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech



Traits or conditions being passed
Process of passing traits

Usage Contexts

Medical, genetic, social (titles)
Genetics, biology, education

Relation to Genetics

Describes outcomes of genetic processes
Study or principle of genetic transmission


Hereditary diseases, hereditary roles
Principles of genetics, genetic inheritance

Compare with Definitions


Passed down by inheritance from an ancestor; transmitted from parent to child.
The hereditary condition was evident in several family members.


The biological inheritance of physical or psychological traits.
Heredity influences various aspects of human behavior.


Of or relating to genes or heredity.
The study focused on hereditary patterns within the population.


A set of traits potentially passed from generation to generation.
Scientists study heredity to understand evolution and species development.


Pertaining to inheritance or the transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring.
Hereditary traits include both physical and behavioral characteristics.


The total genetic constitution of an organism, transferred from parents to children.
Heredity involves both dominant and recessive genes.


Conferring, or based on inheritance.
The hereditary title passed from the queen to her eldest son.


The study of genetic inheritance.
Heredity is a key topic in biology courses.


Genetically transferred from generation to generation.
Hereditary genetic disorders can be tested early in life.


The genetic transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring.


(of a title, office, or right) conferred by or based on inheritance
The Queen's hereditary right to the throne


The sum of characteristics and associated potentialities transmitted genetically to an individual organism.


(of a set) defined such that every element which has a given relation to a member of the set is also a member of the set.


Hereditary transmission of the physical and genetic qualities of parents to their offspring; the biological law by which living beings tend to repeat their characteristics in their descendants.


Of or relating to heredity or inheritance.


Hereditary transmission of the physical and psychical qualities of parents to their offspring; the biological law by which living beings tend to repeat their characteristics in their descendants. See Pangenesis.


Transmitted or capable of being transmitted genetically from parent to offspring
A hereditary disease.


The biological process whereby genetic factors are transmitted from one generation to the next


Passed down from one generation to the next
A hereditary prejudice.


The total of inherited attributes


Being such or possessed by reason of birth
A hereditary aristocracy.


Capable of being inherited.


Descending from an ancestor to a legal heir; passing down by inheritance.


Having title or possession through inheritance.


Passed on as an inheritance, by last will or intestate.


Of a person: holding a legally hereditary title or rank.
Hereditary rulers


Of a disease or trait: passed from a parent to offspring in the genes.
Haemophilia is hereditary in his family.


(math) Of a ring: such that all submodules of projective modules over the ring are also projective.


A hereditary ruler; a hereditary peer in the House of Lords.


Descended, or capable of descending, from an ancestor to an heir at law; received or passing by inheritance, or that must pass by inheritance; as, an hereditary estate or crown.


Transmitted, or capable of being transmitted, as a constitutional quality or condition from a parent to a child; as, hereditary pride, bravery, disease.


Tending to occur among members of a family usually by heredity;
An inherited disease
Familial traits
Genetically transmitted features


Inherited or inheritable by established rules (usually legal rules) of descent;
Ancestral home
Ancestral lore
Hereditary monarchy
Patrimonial estate
Transmissible tradition

Common Curiosities

Can heredity influence personality?

Yes, heredity can influence aspects of personality by passing down behavioral traits genetically.

What are common hereditary conditions?

Common hereditary conditions include cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and hemophilia.

How is heredity different from hereditary?

Heredity is the process of genetic transmission, while hereditary describes the traits or conditions that result from this process.

Is heredity solely responsible for all traits in an organism?

Heredity is responsible for genetic traits, but environmental factors also significantly influence an organism's development.

How do scientists study heredity?

Scientists study heredity through genetics, experiments, and analysis of family lineages.

What does hereditary mean in a biological context?

In biology, hereditary refers to traits or conditions genetically passed from parents to offspring.

What does it mean if a disease is not hereditary?

If a disease is not hereditary, it means it does not result from genetic factors but may be caused by environmental influences or other factors.

What role does heredity play in evolution?

Heredity is fundamental to evolution, as it allows for genetic variations that can lead to evolutionary changes.

Can hereditary traits skip generations?

Yes, some hereditary traits can skip generations, especially if they are recessive.

How is hereditary information stored in an organism?

Hereditary information is stored in DNA, which is present in every cell of an organism.

Can hereditary traits be altered?

While hereditary traits are based on genetic codes, modern genetic engineering technologies can alter these traits to some extent.

What is a hereditary title?

A hereditary title is a title that is passed down through family lines, usually in aristocratic or royal contexts.

How can understanding heredity benefit medicine?

Understanding heredity can help in predicting, diagnosing, and treating genetic diseases more effectively.

What are the ethical concerns related to studying heredity?

Ethical concerns include privacy, consent for genetic testing, and the potential for genetic discrimination.

How accurate are home DNA tests in determining heredity?

Home DNA tests can provide insights into genetic heritage and predispositions, but they may not cover all aspects of heredity and should be interpreted with caution.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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