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unilineal descent

Definition of Unilineal Descent

(noun) Tracing an individual’s descent either through the father (patrilineal) or mother (matrilineal), but never both.

Types of Unilineal Descent

Unilineal Descent Pronunciation

Syllabification: u·ni·lin·e·al de·scent

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Usage Notes

  • Plural: unilineal descents
  • This is a simplified definition of a vast continuum of societal and cultural practices.
  • In contrast to unilineal descent, nonunilineal descent (also called cognatic descent) traces descent through the father or mother.
  • Variant spelling: uni-lineal descent
  • Also called:
    • unilateral descent
    • unilineage
    • unilineality

Additional Information

Related Terms

Works Consulted

Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. 2011. Sociology: The Essentials. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Bilton, Tony, Kevin Bonnett, Pip Jones, David Skinner, Michelle Stanworth, and Andrew Webster. 1996. Introductory Sociology. 3rd ed. London: Macmillan.

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Tischler, Henry L. 2011. Introduction to Sociology. 10th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Unilineal Descent

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “unilineal descent.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved January 17, 2021 (https://sociologydictionary.org/unilineal-descent/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

unilineal descent. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/unilineal-descent/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “unilineal descent.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://sociologydictionary.org/unilineal-descent/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“unilineal descent.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 17 Jan. 2021. <https://sociologydictionary.org/unilineal-descent/>.