- The child or children of a person or an animal, extending into following generations
- The result or reaction following an action or decision
- An assembly of supporters united in one cause
Not in distant past, people used to live close to their families for multiple generations. Many colonists, like the Lowell family and its progeny, decided to stay in the Boston area after settling with the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It is increasingly common to find children (and grandchildren) living far from their parents. Perhaps this recent movement is the progeny of strained family ties, or maybe a hereditary adventurous spirit to change the world! Either way, it seems like family trees were meant to stretch out: there's plenty of room for all of us!
The word progeny generally refers to the offspring of a human or animal. When you think of a progeny or progenies, you might envision a newborn baby or a litter of kittens. However, the word's meaning can be expanded even further to include any person or animal that is a descendent of another. That means when the pilgrims were hoping to build a new life for their progeny, they weren't only thinking of their immediate families but also of the rest of their family tree to come! In addition to denoting the children (and their children) of a family, progeny can be used to signify a group of supporters or followers that have emerged out of a cause or institution. Although these devotees are often not blood-related, they are related in spirit and in mind, making them a genuine progeny.
Figuratively, progeny can refer to the result or effect of something. Similar to how a child is the outcome of fertilization, the Mayflower's unexpected landing in Plymouth could have been the progeny of unpredictable wind patterns. For something to be a progeny in this sense, a cause or prime mover must have occurred or created a consequence (either positive or negative). If you want to find out if your day is the progeny of poor choices or of dumb luck, tracing back your steps could probably lead you to the cause!
Example: Many of the first Puritans and their progenies were afraid of the dangers that would find them in the New World.
Example: Scorched and inedible crops were the progeny of the hot sun.
The origin of progeny can be traced back to the Latin word meaning to "beget." Progignere contains the prefix pro-, which is translated as "forth" or "out," and remnants of the Latin genus, meaning "kind." The original word can literally be translated as "out of [a] kind," including descendants of a family and the effect(s) of a related cause. The word progeny is first recorded in English in the 14th century.
From Charles Darwin's Origin of Species:
Sexual selection is, therefore, less rigorous than natural selection. Generally, the most vigorous males, those which are best fitted for their places in nature, will leave most progeny. But in many cases, victory depends not so much on general vigor, as on having special weapons, confined to the male sex.
Darwin explains that the strongest and best adapted males of the animal kingdom will produce the most descendants, i.e. their progeny. He assumes, like many scientists, that the abilities and characteristics of these males give them the advantage to have more offspring, in which case their positive qualities will be passed down.
From John Milton's Areopagitica:
For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.
Here, Milton is arguing against the censorship of literature. He asserts that, just as people have the freedom of speech, their written words, or progeny, should be given the same rights. Milton warns that censorship will suppress the ideas and beliefs of authors whose books embody their hearts and souls.
- Children who are prodigies often make the best progenies!
- The state of our ecology depends on continued progeny.
- Procreation + Genes => Progeny
Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of progeny. Did you use progeny in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.