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

Mirroring the garb of the bourgeoisie’s black-coated revolutionary forefathers, this aesthetic favors muted colors, clean lines, and functional fabrics. Jeffrey Westbrook. Styled By Will Kahn, Town & Country, "Bourgeouis? Moi? This Season Is Fashion's Rich Girl Revenge," 22 Aug. 2019 Eighty-five percent of the world’s mezcal production comes from the region, where centuries-old production techniques have been passed along from their forefathers. Popular Mechanics, "Burros, Stones, and Machetes: Here’s How Mezcal Is Distilled," 23 Aug. 2019 But the chorus of social media commentary tries to remove any blame from the country’s forefathers for the American version of the institution and its devastating consequences. Kelley Fanto Deetz, The Conversation, "Setting the historical record straight for the critics of The New York Times project on slavery in America," 23 Aug. 2019 American citizens are afforded liberties by our forefathers, because the founders of our nation had confidence in their posterity to use and protect them wisely. Joe Lonsdale, National Review, "Regulating Speech Won’t Fix Our Politics," 12 Aug. 2019 This gift our forefathers gave us, and that our armed forces have preserved for us at great and sometimes ultimate cost, is a goal that non-citizen immigrants should also strive to achieve., "Should Massachusetts cities and towns be allowed to extend the right to vote in local elections to legal non-citizens?," 10 Aug. 2019 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 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

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

5 Oct 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).


friendly or mild

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!