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


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


descendant (also descendent)

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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

The study suggests that stem and progenitor cells are younger than the rest of the organ, Conboy said. San Diego Union-Tribune, "How old are your organs? Salk, UCSD mouse study finds human clues," 6 June 2019 Both authoritarian regimes are born of the same ideology, and have the same progenitors: Havana and Moscow. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "The Other Russian Meddling," 22 July 2018 The Met’s exhibition of the nation’s first major landscape artist and progenitor of what would be called the Hudson River School is gorgeous, politically right for right now and a lesson in the mutability of art history. New York Times, "24 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 10 May 2018 It’s been called the progenitor of neo-Dadaism, the wellspring of a vast amount of absurdist millennial humor that’s pushed out of its niche Tumblr basement to hit the mainstream corridors of the internet. Aja Romano, Vox, "Tumblr’s adult content ban is already harming the site’s vibrant community.," 5 Dec. 2018 Such a disk would be composed of matter from the progenitor massive star. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Cosmic Oddity Challenges What We Know About Pulsars," 19 Sep. 2018 The gradual move away from 4chan as the progenitor of most of our memes is partly a natural cultural response to the evolving extremism that has taken over much of that site’s culture. Aja Romano, Vox, "Dank no more: internet memes are evolving from edgy to cute.," 3 Oct. 2018 The Las Vegas of today owes much of its glitzy reputation to Ocean's 11 — the cinematic progenitor to the all-female Ocean's 8, out June 8. Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, "Hollywood Flashback: How Sinatra and the Men of 'Ocean's 11' Made Vegas "Pop" in 1960," 31 May 2018 Not long ago, these progenitors of virtually all modern musical theater were widely considered dull, stodgy middlebrows. New York Times, "11 New Books We Recommend This Week," 10 May 2018

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, from Anglo-French progenitour, from Latin progenitor, from progignere to beget, from pro- forth + gignere to beget — more at kin

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Statistics for progenitor

Last Updated

16 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for progenitor

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

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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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Comments on progenitor

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


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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