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Alternative forms[edit]


Middle English ancestre, auncestre, ancessour; the first forms from Old French ancestre (modern French ancêtre), from the Latin nominative antecessor (one who goes before); the last form from Old French ancessor, from Latin antecessōrem, accusative of antecessor, from antecēdō (to go before) +‎ -tor (-er), from ante- (before) +‎ cēdō (to go). See cede, and compare with antecessor.



ancestor (plural ancestors)

  1. One from whom a person is descended, whether on the father's or mother's side, at any distance of time; a progenitor; a forefather.
    • 2013 July 20, “Old soldiers?”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
      Whether modern, industrial man is less or more warlike than his hunter-gatherer ancestors is impossible to determine. The machine gun is so much more lethal than the bow and arrow that comparisons are meaningless.
  2. An earlier type; a progenitor
    This fossil animal is regarded as the ancestor of the horse.
  3. (law) One from whom an estate has descended;—the correlative of heir.
  4. (figuratively) One who had the same role or function in former times.
    • 2011 October 1, Saj Chowdhury, “Wolverhampton 1-2 Newcastle”, in BBC Sport:
      The Magpies are unbeaten and enjoying their best run since 1994, although few would have thought the class of 2011 would come close to emulating their ancestors.
  5. (linguistics) A word or phrase which serves as the origin of a term in another language.

Usage notes[edit]



Derived terms[edit]



ancestor (third-person singular simple present ancestors, present participle ancestoring, simple past and past participle ancestored)

  1. (transitive) To be an ancestor of.
    • 1920, Marie Conway Oemler, The Purple Heights, page 9:
      Her own grandfather had been a Virginian, a descendant of Pocahontas, of course, Pocahontas having been created by Divine Providence for the specific purpose of ancestoring Virginians.
    • 1942, William Faulkner, “The Bear”, in Go down, Moses: and other stories, page 281:
      But he could have completed it: Lucas Quintus Carothers McCaslin Beauchamp. Last surviving sone and child of Tomey's Terrel and Tennie Beauchamp. March 17, 1874 except that there was no need: not Lucius Quintus &c &c &c, but Lucas Quintus, not refusing to be called Lucius, because he simply eliminated that word from the name; not denying, declining the name itself, because he used three quarters of it; but simply taking the name and changing, altering it, making it no longer the white man's but his own , by himself composed, himself selfprogenitive and nominate, by himself ancestored, as, for all the old ledgers recorded to the contrary, old Carothers himself was
    • 2006, Richard T. Hull, Presidential Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, 1951-1960:
      The human population of this earth is descended from a most adaptable population, that which originated living matter and then proceeded through continuous specific change to become the population that ancestored man.
    • 2010, Peter Loptson, Reality: Fundamental Topics in Metaphysics, →ISBN, page 171:
      How, that is, could ancestoring Elizabeth become a relational property of James's, when there was, when Elizabeth began to exist, no James to have this property?