fore·​moth·​er | \ ˈfȯr-ˌmə-t͟hər How to pronounce foremother (audio) \

Definition of foremother

: a female ancestor

Examples of foremother in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And without the stories of our foremothers, women have no models to follow. Ruth Franklin, Harper's Magazine, "Splinters and Mosaics," 25 May 2020 In our own moment of global catastrophe, Wade offers us a timely invitation to join our literary foremothers in their rebellious journeys to achieve creative freedom and world harmony. New York Times, "The Power Women of Mecklenburgh Square," 7 Apr. 2020 The posthumous salvation of our literary foremothers seems to happen regularly these days: Jean Stafford, Lucia Berlin, Bette Howland. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "Alice Adams’s Afterlife," 9 Jan. 2020 Many histories of feminist detective fiction find foremothers for today’s anti-heroines in the hardboiled sleuths of the nineteen-seventies and eighties—in P. D. James’s Cordelia Gray, for example, and Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski. Nora Caplan-bricker, The New Yorker, "An Overlooked Novel from 1935 by the Godmother of Feminist Detective Fiction," 13 Nov. 2019 Drag and politics have always been intertwined, ever since the 1969 uprising at the Stonewall Inn in New York, where drag queens and transgender women, notably the performer Marsha P. Johnson, were among the foremothers of the gay rights movement. Washington Post, "How drag queens have snatched the political spotlight in the Trump era," 25 Nov. 2019 Among the book’s great characters are Dwayne’s foremothers. Kate Tuttle, Twin Cities, "Book review: Susan Straight’s ‘In the Country of Women’ is complex, layered, ultimately ravishing," 20 Oct. 2019 De Burgos, a literary foremother of the Nuyorican movement, defied societal norms and advocated for the island’s independence. New York Times, "Overlooked No More: Julia de Burgos, a Poet Who Helped Shape Puerto Rico’s Identity," 28 May 2018 Many of our foremothers and forefathers embraced the brilliant outdoor lifestyle SoCal offered, and have left us with gardens, historic structures with sprawling grounds, and beaches that can’t be beat. Hadley Meares, Los Angeles Magazine, "10 Historic L.A. Places to Visit on a Sunny Day," 14 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'foremother.' 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 foremother

1582, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about foremother

Time Traveler for foremother

Time Traveler

The first known use of foremother was in 1582

See more words from the same year

Statistics for foremother

Cite this Entry

“Foremother.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on foremother

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for foremother

Comments on foremother

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


Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!