Difference Wiki

Heredity vs. Hereditary: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 6, 2023
Heredity refers to the biological process of inheriting traits from parents. Hereditary refers to an adjective describing something passed down through generations.

Key Differences

Heredity refers to the transmission of genetic characteristics from parents to offspring. This biological process ensures that living organisms inherit traits from their ancestors. Hereditary, on the other hand, is an adjective used to describe traits or conditions that are passed down through generations. It often pertains to genetic attributes or familial tendencies.
The concept of heredity encompasses the entire mechanism of inheritance, including genes, chromosomes, and genetic variation. It is a key principle in biology, explaining how offspring resemble their parents. Hereditary traits are specific characteristics or conditions that result from this process. For instance, a hereditary disease is one that is inherited due to genetic factors.
In studying heredity, scientists examine how genetic information is transmitted across generations, including the role of DNA and gene expression. This process is fundamental to understanding evolution and species diversity. Hereditary aspects, in contrast, focus more on the inherited nature of specific traits or conditions, such as hereditary illnesses or familial physical characteristics.
Heredity also involves the study of genetic inheritance patterns, such as dominant and recessive traits. It is a broader term that encompasses all aspects of genetic transmission. Hereditary is used to describe the nature of this transmission in specific instances, like hereditary titles or hereditary disorders.
Understanding heredity is crucial in fields like genetics, medicine, and evolutionary biology. It explains how traits are passed down and how variations arise. Hereditary, as an adjective, helps categorize these traits or conditions as being inherited, highlighting their origins in genetic inheritance.

Comparison Chart


Biological process
Adjective describing nature of traits


Used in context of genetics and inheritance
Used to describe traits or conditions that are passed down


Broad mechanism of genetic transmission
Specific inherited traits or conditions


Study of heredity in biology
Hereditary diseases or titles

Role in Biology

Fundamental to understanding genetics
Used to categorize inherited traits or conditions

Heredity and Hereditary Definitions


The genetic transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring.
Heredity explains why children often resemble their parents.


Pertaining to characteristics or conditions transmitted from parent to child.
The hereditary disease has been present in their family for generations.


The biological inheritance of physical or behavioral traits.
The study of heredity is crucial in understanding family health histories.


Passed down from ancestors through genetic transmission.
Blue eyes in their family are a hereditary trait.


The inheritance of genetic qualities by offspring from their parents.
Scientists study heredity to understand genetic disorders.


Genetically transmitted or transmittable from parent to offspring.
Their artistic talent seems to be hereditary.


The process through which traits are passed from one generation to the next.
Heredity plays a key role in the continuity of species traits.


Inheriting or capable of being inherited genetically.
Their susceptibility to certain allergies is hereditary.


The mechanism by which genes and traits are inherited.
Heredity is a fundamental concept in evolutionary biology.


Relating to inheritance or hereditary succession.
The hereditary title passed from father to son.


Of or relating to heredity or inheritance.


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


How does heredity work?

Heredity works through the transmission of genetic information via genes from parents to their children.

Can a disease be hereditary?

Yes, many diseases are hereditary, meaning they can be inherited from parents.

Are all traits hereditary?

Not all traits are hereditary; some are influenced by environmental factors.

Are hereditary traits always visible?

Not always; some hereditary traits may be recessive or not externally visible.

What is heredity?

Heredity is the biological process through which traits are passed from parents to offspring.

Can heredity be predicted?

With knowledge of genetics, some aspects of heredity can be predicted.

Can hereditary diseases be prevented?

Some hereditary diseases can be managed or mitigated, but not all can be prevented.

What does hereditary mean?

Hereditary describes something that is passed down from one generation to another, especially genetic traits.

What's an example of heredity in action?

Physical traits like eye color or height are classic examples of heredity.

Can heredity influence behavior?

Yes, some behavioral traits can be influenced by heredity.

What's a common hereditary condition?

Sickle cell anemia is a common hereditary condition.

Is hereditary the same as genetic?

Hereditary is often used synonymously with genetic, but it specifically refers to the transmission of traits.

Is hereditary limited to physical traits?

No, hereditary traits can include physical, behavioral, and even some health-related characteristics.

How is heredity studied?

Heredity is studied through genetics, examining how traits are passed down.

Can lifestyle influence hereditary traits?

Lifestyle can influence how some hereditary traits are expressed, but it can't change the genetic makeup.

Can heredity be altered?

Heredity itself cannot be altered, but gene therapy can influence how certain genes are expressed.

Does heredity affect health?

Yes, heredity can significantly impact health, especially regarding genetic disorders.

What role does heredity play in evolution?

Heredity is fundamental in evolution, as it allows traits to be passed to succeeding generations.

Are all hereditary traits dominant?

No, hereditary traits can be either dominant or recessive.

How do heredity and environment interact?

Heredity and environment interact to shape an individual’s traits and behaviors.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons