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

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for ancestor



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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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Cenobio's descendant, Guillermo Erickson Sauza, began work to revamp the family distillery in 1999, using the same copper stills and tahona stone mills as his ancestor. Claudia Alarcón, Forbes, 24 July 2022 The new variants have mutated substantially from their omicron ancestor, to the point that some scientists believe that BA.5, at least, should be given its own Greek letter name. Aidin Vaziri, San Francisco Chronicle, 9 July 2022 Her visions, recollections that are both her ancestor’s and her own, only confuse her more — which represent the past, and which represent her future? Adriana E. Ramirez,, 7 July 2022 Sam Lemon, Ridley’s great grandson, finished what his ancestor started when a judge overturned a conviction for Alexander McClay Williams, achieving justice for his great grandfather’s former client. Rayna Reid Rayford, Essence, 22 June 2022 Diggs believes that his ancestor escaped slavery and enlisted in the Union army. Los Angeles Times, 13 June 2022 Likewise, as a species, the octopus is a strange peer, given that our most recent mutual ancestor lived about 600 million years ago. Nicole Acheampong, The Atlantic, 22 Apr. 2022 Seventy-two years ago, someone knocked on your ancestor's door and asked them a series of questions. Emma Stein, Detroit Free Press, 1 Apr. 2022 Whatever the motivation, Villarias’s ancestor and the rest of the crew came upon a pristine shoreline, the northeastern coast of Palawan, a long, slender strip of land that looks like it’s trying to flee the rest of the Philippine archipelago. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 11 July 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of ancestor

14th 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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The first known use of ancestor was in the 14th century

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ancestor cult

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Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ancestor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for ancestor


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



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

More from Merriam-Webster on ancestor

Nglish: Translation of ancestor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ancestor for Arabic Speakers


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