Could someone please explain to me what's the difference in meaning between heritage, heredity and inheritance and give an example of each?

I've read the posts about differences between them as pairwise (inheritance vs heredity or heritage vs inheritance) but I couldn't find a general difference between them as a triad difference.

Here's an example for one each:

John's brown eyes are the result of heredity.

John inherited(as verb) his brown eyes from his father.

He gave cards to all grandchildren of Greek heritage.

Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    I wouldn’t use “a triad difference” very often in ordinary discussion. To me as a native speaker that sounds like something to do with a Chinese crime syndicate. I think you mean “...the difference between the three of them.” – Orbital Aussie Jan 22 at 9:19
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    Inheritance is the ordinary word used for money and possessions inherited from earlier generations. It can also be used of inherited characteristics. In modern usage heredity refers specifically to genetic inheritance. Heritage is often used of the inherited traditions of a country or society (in modern jargon, at least in the UK, it refers to museums, historic houses etc.). It can also be used as in your third sentence, to mean descent from people of a particular nationality. – Kate Bunting Jan 22 at 9:24
  • @OrbitalAussie That's right, thanks for the correction. I'm an English learner. – Benyamin Jafari Jan 22 at 9:47
  • @KateBunting Tanks for the explantation. – Benyamin Jafari Jan 22 at 9:52

"Inheritance" is possibly the broadest word of the three. It can refer to anything that is passed to people from previous generations, including physical possessions left in a last will and testament, biological traits, and sometimes intangible things such as a responsibility, state or condition.


  • I inherited my father's house.
  • I inherited my mother's nose.
  • I inherited the responsibility to care for my younger brother.

"Heredity" is specifically the biological inheritance - the passing on of traits from parents to their offspring.


  • With diseases such as cancer, heredity is a major factor.

"Heritage" doesn't usually refer to anything biological from one's immediate family, but may refer to generalised biological traits of one's nationality or ancestry. It can also refer to property, culture, land, inherited either by individuals or in a broader sense by entire countries.


  • England has a rich, cultural heritage.
  • His Scottish heritage was very important to him.
  • His skin tone reflected his heritage.
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