late 14c., "move upward," from Latin ascendere "to climb up, mount," of planets, constellations, "come over the horizon," figuratively "to rise, reach," from ad "to" (see ad-) + scandere "to climb" (see scan (v.)). Also in 15c. used with a sense "to mount (a female) for copulation." Meaning "slope upward" is from 1832. Related: Ascended; ascending. An Old English word for it was stigan.
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