ancestor

noun
an·​ces·​tor | \ ˈan-ˌses-tər also -səs- How to pronounce ancestor (audio) \

Definition of ancestor

1a : one from whom a person is descended and who is usually more remote in the line of descent than a grandparent Her ancestors came to America in the 1880s.
2 : forerunner, prototype an exhibit of the ancestors of the modern computer
3 : a progenitor (see progenitor sense 1b) of a more recent or existing species or group the ancestor of the modern horse

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Synonyms & Antonyms for ancestor

Synonyms

father, forebear (also forbear), forebearer, forefather, grandfather, primogenitor, progenitor

Antonyms

descendant (also descendent)

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Examples of ancestor in a Sentence

My ancestors came to America during the 1800s. Her ancestors were great sea captains. an ancient animal that was the ancestor of the modern horse The museum included an exhibit showing ancestors of the modern computer. several languages that are derived from a common ancestor Latin is the ancestor of Italian and French.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Her grandparents, Monáe tells me, passed down the tales from their ancestors about watching slaves escape during Bleeding Kansas, a series of violent clashes in the lead-up to the Civil War. Sean Knight, Glamour, "Janelle Monáe Knows She Has Your Attention. Get Ready for What's Next.," 5 Nov. 2018 Supporters say the statues are a part of history honoring their ancestors; detractors say they, in effect, honor slavery and in many cases were erected during the Jim Crow era to intimidate black people and bolster white supremacy. Kevin Mcgill, The Seattle Times, "Lawyer: Move trial from courthouse with Confederate monument," 18 Sep. 2018 Millennia separate the people standing on the deck of this voyaging canoe from their ancestors. Jill K. Robinson, San Francisco Chronicle, "Stars and waves guide navigation the ancient Polynesian way," 8 Feb. 2018 Before the days of history books and museum placards, families shared stories and tales of their ancestors verbally. The Seattle Times, "Create an oral history to share your family’s experience," 23 Oct. 2018 Eel, or kat, was a fundamental resource for Prosper’s ancestors. Karen Pinchin, Smithsonian, "The Epic Fight Over the Enigmatic Eel," 5 Feb. 2018 With luck, searching for ancestors will someday be as easy as online shopping. The Economist, "Ancestral longingsAs China rushes forward, more people seek their roots," 11 Jan. 2018 For our far-back ancestors, not looking dumb was an issue of survival. Cari Romm, The Cut, "A Psychologist Explains How to Conquer Your Fear of Trying New Things," 9 Jan. 2018 Jennifer Raff, University of Kansas assistant professor of anthropology, said DNA companies estimate who you are most closely related to, but migration may have affected where your ancestors actually lived. Christine Willmsen, The Seattle Times, "Reporter’s DNA ancestry tests ‘caught me off guard’," 13 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ancestor.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ancestor

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for ancestor

Middle English ancestre, from Anglo-French, from Latin antecessor predecessor, from antecedere to go before, from ante- + cedere to go

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Statistics for ancestor

Last Updated

12 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ancestor

The first known use of ancestor was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for ancestor

ancestor

noun

English Language Learners Definition of ancestor

: a person who was in someone's family in past times : one of the people from whom a person is descended
: an animal in the past from which a modern animal developed
: something in the past from which something else has developed

ancestor

noun
an·​ces·​tor | \ ˈan-ˌse-stər How to pronounce ancestor (audio) \

Kids Definition of ancestor

1 : a person from whom someone is descended
2 : something from which something else develops

ancestor

noun
an·​ces·​tor

Legal Definition of ancestor

1a : a person from whom an individual is descended : ascendant
b : a person from whom an estate descends — compare heir
2 : one that precedes ancestor in title

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More from Merriam-Webster on ancestor

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ancestor

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ancestor

Spanish Central: Translation of ancestor

Nglish: Translation of ancestor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ancestor for Arabic Speakers

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