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Heritage vs. Legacy: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Heritage is what's inherited from culture and ancestors, while legacy is what an individual leaves behind.
Heritage vs. Legacy

Key Differences

Heritage encompasses the cultural, historical, and natural treasures passed down through generations. It includes tangible assets like artifacts, landscapes, and buildings, as well as intangible assets like traditions, languages, and knowledge. Heritage is inherited collectively by a community or nation and is preserved to maintain a connection with the past.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 08, 2023
Legacy refers to what one leaves behind after they pass away, often with a focus on an individual's contributions and impacts. It includes personal bequests like property or money, as well as intangible elements such as reputation, values, or the effects of one's actions. A legacy is often a deliberate endowment to future generations by a specific person or entity.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 08, 2023
Heritage is a collective inheritance, often linked to cultural identity and history, shared among members of a group or society. It represents the accumulation of practices, values, or achievements that are preserved from one generation to the next. Heritage is often celebrated and protected by laws and societal efforts.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 08, 2023
Legacy is a more individual concept, emphasizing what a person or organization intentionally leaves for others. It reflects a person’s life achievements, values they espoused, or the resources they allocate to benefit others after their death. Legacies can be shaped and influenced by the individual's wishes and actions during their lifetime.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 08, 2023
While heritage is an accumulation over time, often maintained by many, legacy is generally associated with the contributions of a single individual or entity. Heritage is shared among a group and linked to identity, whereas legacy is about the impact and remembrance of an individual's life or an organization’s existence.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 08, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Inherited traditions, culture, and possessions
What an individual leaves behind after their death
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Scope

Collective and communal
Individual or specific entity
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Nature

Often intangible, can also be tangible
Can be tangible (e.g., property) or intangible (e.g., reputation)
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Intentionality

Inherited without deliberate action
Often the result of deliberate intent
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Transmission

Passed down through generations
Bequeathed by an individual or entity
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Legal Aspect

May involve preservation laws
Can involve wills and bequests
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Example

Cultural practices, historic buildings
Personal achievements, endowed funds
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Heritage and Legacy Definitions

Heritage

The practices and characteristics handed down from previous generations.
The folk songs are an important part of our national heritage.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 08, 2023

Legacy

An inheritance or endowment.
She received a small legacy from her aunt's estate.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 08, 2023

Heritage

A legacy or inheritance from the past.
The ancient ruins are a vital heritage of the civilization that once flourished here.
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Legacy

The impact or consequences of a person's life or actions.
Her work in civil rights is a powerful legacy.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Heritage

The background or tradition that influences one's culture.
She takes great pride in her Native American heritage.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 08, 2023

Legacy

The lasting influence of a particular individual or period.
The technological advances are a legacy of the space race era.
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Heritage

Natural features or landscapes that are preserved for their cultural or historical value.
The Grand Canyon is a cherished part of America's natural heritage.
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Legacy

A gift of personal property by will.
He left his art collection to the museum as a legacy.
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Heritage

Property that is or can be inherited; an inheritance.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Legacy

Something handed down from an ancestor or predecessor.
The scholarship fund was his legacy to the school.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 08, 2023

Heritage

Something that is passed down from preceding generations; a tradition.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Legacy

Money or property given to another by will.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Heritage

The status acquired by a person through birth; a birthright
A heritage of affluence and social position.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Legacy

Something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past
A legacy of religious freedom.
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Oct 19, 2023

Heritage

A domesticated animal or a crop of a traditional breed, usually not widely produced for commercial purposes.
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Oct 19, 2023

Legacy

An individual who is either an applicant to an educational institution or a matriculated student and is the child of an alumna or alumnus.
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Oct 19, 2023

Heritage

An inheritance; property that may be inherited.
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Oct 19, 2023

Legacy

Retained under an obsolescent or discarded system, chiefly for purposes of reference
Legacy files in the old email system.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Heritage

A tradition; a practice or set of values that is passed down from preceding generations through families or through institutional memory.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Legacy

(legal) Money or property bequeathed to someone in a will.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Heritage

A birthright; the status acquired by birth, especially of but not exclusive to the firstborn.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Legacy

Something inherited from a predecessor or the past.
John Muir left as his legacy an enduring spirit of respect for the environment.
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Oct 19, 2023

Heritage

(attributive) Having a certain background, such as growing up with a second language.
A heritage speaker; a heritage language
The university requires heritage Spanish students to enroll in a specially designed Spanish program not available to non-heritage students.
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Oct 19, 2023

Legacy

(education) The descendant of an alumnus.
Because she was a legacy, her mother's sorority rushed her.
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Oct 19, 2023

Heritage

That which is inherited, or passes from heir to heir; inheritance.
Part of my heritage,Which my dead father did bequeath to me.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Legacy

Left over from the past; no longer current.
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Oct 19, 2023

Heritage

A possession; the Israelites, as God's chosen people; also, a flock under pastoral charge.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Legacy

A gift of property by will, esp. of money or personal property; a bequest. Also Fig.; as, a legacy of dishonor or disease.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Heritage

Practices that are handed down from the past by tradition;
A heritage of freedom
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Oct 19, 2023

Legacy

A business with which one is intrusted by another; a commission; - obsolete, except in the phrases last legacy, dying legacy, and the like.
My legacy and message wherefore I am sent into the world.
He came and told his legacy.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Heritage

Any attribute or immaterial possession that is inherited from ancestors;
My only inheritance was my mother's blessing
The world's heritage of knowledge
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Legacy

(law) a gift of personal property by will
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Heritage

That which is inherited; a title or property or estate that passes by law to the heir on the death of the owner
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Heritage

Hereditary succession to a title or an office or property
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Heritage

Assets acquired from one's predecessors.
The museum houses the artistic heritage of the city's medieval period.
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Nov 08, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

What does heritage symbolize?

Heritage symbolizes the practices, traditions, and assets passed through generations.
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Can heritage be tangible?

Yes, it can include physical objects like buildings and art.
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Is heritage always old?

Typically, heritage refers to something with historical significance, though not always old.
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Is heritage the same as history?

No, heritage is what is valued and preserved from history.
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Nov 08, 2023

How is heritage preserved?

Through conservation efforts, laws, and cultural appreciation.
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Do all people leave a legacy?

To some extent, yes, though the significance varies.
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Are heritage sites always protected?

Many are, but not all heritage sites have legal protection.
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How do we see someone's legacy?

Through their lasting effects on others and society.
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Can heritage change over time?

The value and components of heritage can evolve.
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What can be considered a legacy?

A legacy can include money, property, or one's influence and accomplishments.
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Can legacies be negative?

Yes, legacies can have positive or negative impacts.
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Can organizations have heritage?

Yes, institutions can have a cultural or historical heritage.
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Who determines what is heritage?

Typically, it's a collective recognition by society or cultural groups.
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Nov 08, 2023

Can a person's legacy and heritage be the same?

There can be overlap, especially if a person's achievements become part of a collective heritage.
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How is a legacy carried forward?

Through memories, continued influences, or specific directives like wills.
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Is a legacy always intentional?

Often, but not always; it can also be the byproduct of one's life.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 08, 2023

Can heritage be sold?

Some aspects can be, but often it is collectively owned or protected.
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Does a legacy need to be material?

No, it can also be the enduring impact of one’s actions or ideas.
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Can a legacy be created while living?

Yes, through significant contributions to society or one’s field.
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Who benefits from a legacy?

Typically, future generations or designated recipients.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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