fore·​fa·​ther | \ˈfȯr-ˌfä-t͟hər \

Definition of forefather 

2 : a person of an earlier period and common heritage

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Synonyms & Antonyms for forefather


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


descendant (also descendent)

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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

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 If that’s cause for eviction, our forefathers might never have sat in the same room together. Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press, "Mitch Albom: The ricochet effect of public shaming now on full display," 30 June 2018 In other words, just following what our forefathers intended, and not trying to reinterpret that or add to that? Fox News, "Sen. Rand Paul: Supreme Court vote will be divided along party lines," 28 June 2018 Since July celebrates America’s birthday, why not commemorate in the city where our forefathers made history. Stephanie Toone, ajc, "5 last-minute Atlanta travel deals for July," 19 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.

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First Known Use of forefather

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for forefather

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

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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 \

Kids Definition of forefather

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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).


a nest or breeding place

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