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

Yes, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance will, like its progenitor, freak you and your kids right the hell out in all the best ways. Wired, "Netflix Re-Ups the Puppetry—and Perturbations—of Dark Crystal," 30 Aug. 2019 Koslow’s event included New York pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz, whose annual Manhattan bake sales benefiting Planned Parenthood are the progenitor of the model. Los Angeles Times, "Pastry chefs are raising thousands for charities like Planned Parenthood," 26 Aug. 2019 But the real star of the show here might be Gooigi, Luigi's gelatinous doppelganger that can split apart from his progenitor to help solve simple puzzles. Sam Machkovech And Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "The best games, demos, and tech of E3 2019," 14 June 2019 Greek, Turkish, and Arab camel drivers from the Eastern Mediterranean who have arrived in America with a boatload of dromedaries, which are the first of their kind to set foot on the continent since their progenitors died out in the last Ice Age. Francisco Cantú, The New Yorker, "Téa Obreht Reimagines the Western," 12 Aug. 2019 While there are still rides and water, the park is a considerably more cautious version of its progenitor. Jack Mccallum,, "Remembering Action Park, America's Most Dangerous, Daring Water Park," 1 July 2019 Iron was formed in the cores of the massive first stars that were the progenitors of the metal-poor ones, Ezzeddine says. Rachel Crowell, Scientific American, "The Universe’s First Stars Exploded in Strange Ways," 31 May 2019 The Florida Man meme, which, like all memes, survives its progenitor’s retirement, was quick to turn up a metaphysical quandary: is Florida actually weirder than the rest of America? Chris Wilson, Time, "Florida Man or Not Florida Man? Guess Which of These Stories Happened in Florida," 26 June 2019 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

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

8 Sep 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).


to spread over or through

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