<computer programming> In object-oriented programming, the ability to derive new classes from existing classes. A derived class (or "subclass") inherits the instance variables and methods of the "base class" (or "superclass"), and may add new instance variables and methods. New methods may be defined with the same names as those in the base class, in which case they override the original one.

For example, bytes might belong to the class of integers for which an add method might be defined. The byte class would inherit the add method from the integer class.

See also: Liskov substitution principle, multiple inheritance.

(01 May 2000)

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1. The act or state of inheriting; as, the inheritance of an estate; the inheritance of mental or physical qualities.

2. That which is or may be inherited; that which is derived by an heir from an ancestor or other person; a heritage; a possession which passes by descent. "When the man dies, let the inheritance Descend unto the daughter." (Shak)

3. A permanent or valuable possession or blessing, especially. One received by gift or without purchase; a benefaction. "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away." (1 Pet. I. 4)

4. Possession; ownership; acquisition. "The inheritance of their loves." "To you th' inheritance belongs by right Of brother's praise; to you eke longs his love." (Spenser)

5. <biology> Transmission and reception by animal or plant generation.

6. A perpetual or continuing right which a man and his heirs have to an estate; an estate which a man has by descent as heir to another, or which he may transmit to another as his heir; an estate derived from an ancestor to an heir in course of law.

The word inheritance (used simply) is mostly confined to the title to land and tenements by a descent. "Men are not proprietors of what they have, merely for themselves; their children have a title to part of it which comes to be wholly theirs when death has put an end to their parents' use of it; and this we call inheritance." (Locke)

Origin: Cf. OF. Enheritance.

(01 Mar 1998)

inherent, inherit, inheritable, inheritance < Prev | Next > inherited, inherited albumin variants

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