fore·​fa·​ther | \ ˈfȯr-ˌfä-t͟hər How to pronounce forefather (audio) \

Definition of forefather

2 : a person of an earlier period and common heritage

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for forefather


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


descendant (also descendent)

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of forefather in a Sentence

our forefathers bought this farm, and our family has worked it for three generations

Recent Examples on the Web

Dan’s military forefathers dying in previous wars was shot on the last day of production, shot on a nearby rooftop where Jenny nearly commits suicide later in the film. Ben Flanagan |,, "35 fascinating facts about ‘Forrest Gump’," 25 June 2019 The rugby scrum is the forefather of American football’s offensive lines. Tod Leonard, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Art of the scrum: Legion players explain rugby’s mysterious melee," 7 June 2019 Jews who made it through the horror were the ones with the moral authority to teach young Germans about the perils of anti-Semitism and the crimes of their forefathers. Kirsten Grieshaber, Fox News, "Jewish teens enlisted to fight anti-Semitism in Germany," 29 July 2018 Ansel doesn’t repudiate narrative with abstraction in the manner of her modernist forefathers. Cate Mcquaid,, "‘Pushing Painting’ presents the medium’s possibilities," 20 June 2018 Brazilians of Japanese descent often return to the land of their forefathers. Samantha Pearson And Luciana Magalhaes, WSJ, "‘I’m Totally Freaked Out’: Brazilians Weigh a Farewell to Paradise," 2 Aug. 2018 Nicholas Hoel’s forefathers plant an American chestnut in Iowa. Jenni Laidman,, "A dazzlingly narrated edition of 'The Overstory' by Richard Powers leads the audiobooks roundup," 7 May 2018 The foundation of the Bullet Club was built of the shoulders of legendary forefathers Finn Balor and AJ Styles. Justin Barrasso,, "The Week in Wrestling: Tama Tonga Says Bullet Club Civil War ‘Has Been a Long Time Coming’," 11 July 2018 Boissonnault told the story of his forefathers, who first landed in Canada in 1642. Alan Gomez, USA TODAY, "Canada warns immigrants in U.S. about heading north of the border," 8 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of forefather

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about forefather

Statistics for forefather

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for forefather

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for forefather



English Language Learners Definition of forefather

: a person (especially a man) who was in your family in past times
: a person (especially a man) from an earlier time who helped to create or start something modern or important


fore·​fa·​ther | \ ˈfȯr-ˌfä-t͟hər How to pronounce forefather (audio) \

Kids Definition of forefather

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on forefather

What made you want to look up forefather? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to complain fretfully

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!