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Multiple Meanings

We saw the rocket descend.
move or slope downward


come from a higher or prior level in a hierarchy — as a person from an ancestor


come or arrive — especially from above — such as night or darkness

In addition to referencing a change in physical position, descend is often used metaphorically. For example, to "descend into poverty" is to move to a lower or less good condition.

Similarly, descend can reference moving down a hierarchy or developing from something in the past — as in "She descended from royalty".  To "descend from a discussion of mammals to a discussion of rodents" is to move down the hierarchy of animal classifications.

More rarely, descend can mean "to arrive" — especially when many arrive suddenly — as in "Thieves descended upon us."
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