c. 1300, from Old French descente "descent, descendance, lineage," formed from descendre (see descend) on analogy of French nouns such as attente from attendre "to expect," vente "sale" from vendre "to sell," pente "slope" from pendre "to hang" (the etymological English word from Latin would be *descence).
Figurative use is from late 14c. Meaning "action of descending," also "a downward slope" is from 1590s. Meaning "act of descending from an ancestor" is from mid-14c. Evolutionary sense is from 1859 in Darwin, though there are uses which suggest essentially the same thing going back to 1630s.
1. When entering a trail or starting a descent, yield to other skiers.
2. The plane began its descent to Heathrow.
3. The marriage was considered especially ignominious since she was of royal descent.
4. We watched anxiously during her descent from the tree.
5. The descent of the mountain took nearly two hours.