pro·​gen·​i·​tor | \ prō-ˈje-nə-tər How to pronounce progenitor (audio) , prə- \

Definition of progenitor

1a : an ancestor in the direct line : forefather
b : a biologically ancestral form
2 : precursor, originator progenitors of socialist ideasThe Times Literary Supplement (London) progenitor cells

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Synonyms & Antonyms for progenitor



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Examples of progenitor in a Sentence

the progenitors of modern art wild cats that were the progenitors of the house cat
Recent Examples on the Web Alvin has been in service for nearly six decades, but due to regular teardowns and rebuilds, the submarine piloted by Strickrott has little more than a name in common with its progenitor. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "The Oldest Crewed Deep Sea Submarine Just Got a Big Makeover," 21 Dec. 2020 The Carl Street Studios, which are still intact and privately owned today, were a progenitor of Glasner Studio, which is considered Miller’s masterpiece and is the subject of the new virtual tour. Liz Logan, Smithsonian Magazine, "A New Virtual Tour Takes Us Inside Architect Edgar Miller’s Masterwork," 10 Dec. 2020 Bluepoint Games has pulled the genre's progenitor out of a pile of last-gen rubble to remind us how pure and solid its foundation was—in ways that stand out compared to Souls sequels and spinoffs. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Demon’s Souls PS5 review: A gorgeous game worth dying (repeatedly) for," 13 Nov. 2020 Puck, a culinary icon and Austrian-born progenitor of California cuisine, has had a restaurant in the Detroit casino since the permanent structure opened more than a decade ago, beginning with Wolfgang Puck Grille. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Wolfgang Puck pulls out of MGM Grand Detroit casino after 13 years," 15 Oct. 2020 Hinkley looks to his other renowned horticultural endeavor, a nursery and display garden seven miles to the north named Heronswood, as the progenitor of Windcliff. Washington Post, "How Dan Hinkley distilled a lifetime of gardening lessons into a paradise named Windcliff," 7 Oct. 2020 And then there’s Tiffanie Turner, based in Fairfax, Calif., who is widely acknowledged as the progenitor and doyenne of the new generation of paper-flower makers, teaching popular workshops on the subject. Nancy Hass, New York Times, "The Artists Giving New Life to Fake Flowers," 1 Oct. 2020 Dupin appeared in three Poe stories, and was the progenitor of Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, and all who followed. Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, "Why Private Eyes Are Everywhere Now," 28 Sep. 2020 Veal stock is the most common and wonderfully gelatinous progenitor of glace, but, technically, any bones — beef, chicken — will do. James P. Dewan,, "You’ve mastered bone broth. Now turn it into glace — cubes of unparalleled deliciousness that will transform any dish.," 25 Sep. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for progenitor

Middle English progenitour, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin prōgenitor "individual from whom a person or family is descended, ancestor," agentive derivative of prōgignere "to produce as offspring, bring into being, give rise to" (from prō- pro- entry 2 + gignere "to bring into being, beget, give birth to"), after genitor "father, parent, originator," going back to Indo-European *ǵenh1- "engender, beget" + *-tor/*-tōr, agent suffix, from which also Greek genétōr "father, begetter, ancestor," Sanskrit janitar-, janitá "father, progenitor" — more at kin entry 1

Note: Alternatively genitor has been explained as a new formation based on genitus, past participle of gignere. The older and still somewhat more attractive view sees genitus as the new formation, based on the perfect genuī or on genitor itself, after the connection with the original verbal adjective (g)nātus (going back to zero-grade *ǵn̥h1-to-) became weakened.

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Time Traveler for progenitor

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

9 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Progenitor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce progenitor (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of progenitor

: someone who first thinks of or does something : a person who begins something
: something that is a model for something else : something that begins the development of something else
biology : a person or animal in the past that is related to a person or animal living now


pro·​gen·​i·​tor | \ prō-ˈjen-ət-ər, prə- How to pronounce progenitor (audio) \

Medical Definition of progenitor

1 : an ancestor of an individual in a direct line of descent along which some or all of the ancestral genes could theoretically have passed
2 : a biologically ancestral form

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