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

In a separate project, experts unearthed a 2,200-year-old gold coin depicting the ancient King Ptolemy III, an ancestor of the famed Cleopatra. James Rogers, Fox News, "'Cursed' ancient Egyptian sarcophagus reveals its grisly secrets," 21 Aug. 2018 One of the main questions is whether this turn-taking trait could have evolved independently in different species, rather than evolved once long ago in an ancestor shared by all the disparate species. Joshua Rapp Learn, Smithsonian, "Some Animals Take Turns While Talking, Just Like Humans. Why?," 20 June 2018 The Teeling brothers have revived a defunct brand founded a few blocks away by an ancestor in 1782 yet commit 25 percent of their annual production to innovation. Tara Nurin, Philly.com, "In Dublin, a story of whiskey is more than just one night at the pub," 8 June 2018 Yet missing from most movies is the evolving picture of Rex as an ancestor of birds, with feathers sticking out between its scales to keep it warm, and perhaps doubling as a mating display. Ira Flatow, New York Times, "When the Dinosaurs Reigned," 29 May 2018 Bartels' website traces the family's history to 1898, when an ancestor moved from Portland to Cottage Grove and built a slaughterhouse. Mike Rogoway, OregonLive.com, "Eugene meatpacker will close, lay off 142 workers," 19 Mar. 2018 After midnight Mass at a nearby church that holds the saintly relics of an ancestor, the family will return home for panettone and a glass of fine Marsala wine. J.s. Marcus, WSJ, "Luxury Homeowners Discover the Delight of Sicily Living," 20 Dec. 2018 The Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 challenged the Hanoverian legitimacy and forced the theaters to shut until the insurrection was put down by Winston Churchill’s ancestor, the Duke of Marlborough. Norman Lebrecht, WSJ, "‘Handel in London’ Review: The First Musician-Entrepreneur," 21 Dec. 2018 Thousands of Palestinians gathered at several locations along the fence on Friday, calling for their right to return to lands in present-day Israel that their ancestors fled or were expelled from 70 years ago. Abeer Salman And Nadeem Muaddi, CNN, "Israeli forces kill 4 protesters in Gaza, Palestinian ministry says," 8 June 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

7 May 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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