1. verb If you ascend a hill or staircase, you go up it. [written] [V n] ⇒ Mrs Clayton had to hold Lizzie's hand as they ascended the steps. [V prep/adv] ⇒ Then we ascend steeply through forests of rhododendron. [Also V] 2. verb If a staircase or path ascends, it leads up to a higher position. [written] [V prep/adv] ⇒ A number of staircases ascend from the cobbled streets onto the ramparts. [V-ing] ⇒ ...an ascending spiral path leading to a tower. [Also V, V n] 3. verb
If something ascends, it moves up, usually vertically or into the air. [written] [V] ⇒ Keep the drill steady while it ascends and descends. [V amount] ⇒ Nott and Dickinson set a new altitude record when they ascended 55,900 feet in their balloon.
4. verb If someone ascends to an important position, they achieve it or are appointed to it. When someone ascends a throne, they become king, queen, or pope. [formal] [V to n] ⇒ ...the same year he ascended to power. [V to n] ⇒ Before ascending to the bench, she was a lawyer in a large New York firm. [V n] ⇒ ...a few years before Sixtus V ascended the papal throne. 5. verb If you ascend in your career or in society, you gradually achieve success or a higher status. [written] climb [V prep/adv] ⇒ Mobutu ascended through the ranks, eventually becoming commander of the army. [V n] ⇒ They move freely from one department to another as they ascend the civil service ladder. 6. verb In some religions, when someone's soul goes to heaven, you can say that they ascend to heaven. [formal] [V to/into n] ⇒ ...the belief that the souls of the faithful and virtuous would ascend to heaven. 7. verb If something or someone ascends to a higher level, they reach a state that is better than the one they were in before. [literary] OPPOSITE: descend [V from/to n] ⇒ The story ascends from a gothic tragedy to a miraculous fairy-tale.
COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary. Copyright © Harper Collins Publishers