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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

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.

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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 August 21, 2019 (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 August 21, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/unilineal-descent/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“unilineal descent.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 21 Aug. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/unilineal-descent/>.