Definition of ancestry in English:



  • 1One's family or ethnic descent.

    ‘he was proud of his Irish ancestry’
    • ‘Having been raised in an Italian ancestry family of ten children I thought I was pretty used to chaos.’
    • ‘McGhie traced his ancestry back by recording the names, birth years and birthplaces of his ancestors.’
    • ‘It has been in the Teen family and its ancestry since 1886.’
    • ‘My father's family traces its ancestry there back 900 years.’
    • ‘In the ancestry of our family, there had only ever been one child - hence, only one cross.’
    • ‘Presumably because of their Jewish ancestry, the family fled to England in 1939.’
    • ‘Once they're gone, information about your ancestry along with interesting family lore is also gone forever unless the knowledge has been passed on to the next generation.’
    • ‘Many of these families traced their ancestry to the earliest English settlers of this country's oldest fishing port.’
    • ‘The Davis and the Somes families traced their ancestry to Cape Ann's earliest settlers.’
    • ‘Our teeth tell us something about our ancestry, ethnic background, and age, our environment and our health.’
    • ‘A criollo in Argentina is a person or a family descended from Spanish ancestry, in other words, no added mixture of non-Spanish blood.’
    • ‘The result is a genealogist's dream, for not only does he sketch the families, he also records their ancestry and their ties to others in the county.’
    • ‘To a large extent, the linguistic classification corresponds to the historical records regarding the ancestry of East Asians.’
    • ‘There's no acting in our family ancestry, so the path to it wasn't clear at all.’
    • ‘So she has been following up her family ancestry.’
    • ‘Ann was a descendant of a family that could trace its ancestry back to the Norman Conquest.’
    • ‘It's hardly a big number - only about 1.5% of those claiming a specific ethnic ancestry named Scotch-Irish.’
    • ‘Local legends and some native historians trace their ancestry to the biblical figure Yafith, the son of Noah.’
    • ‘A group of nomad families sharing a common ancestry is more likely to deal with the challenges of the desert.’
    • ‘Today, any Jew - regardless of ethnic ancestry - who wishes to live in Israel is entitled to full and equal Israeli citizenship.’
    ancestors, forebears, forefathers, progenitors, antecedents
    family tree
    lineage, line, descent, family, parentage, extraction, origin, derivation, genealogy, heredity, pedigree, blood, bloodline, stock, strain, roots
    filiation, stirps
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1The evolutionary or genetic line of descent of an animal or plant.
      ‘the ancestry of the rose is extremely complicated’
      • ‘Evolutionists sought the ancestry of the tetrapods among the lobe-finned fishes.’
      • ‘Evolutionists do not feel compelled to prove their claim that similarity necessarily means common evolutionary ancestry - they assume it.’
      • ‘Closely related species will tend to share more characters through common ancestry than through independent evolution.’
      • ‘As a supplement to comparisons among natural populations, experimental evolution offers the advantages of known ancestries and constant, reproducible selective environments.’
      • ‘Humans did not evolve out of an animal ancestry.’
      • ‘Pandas are carnivores because they belong to a set of animals with a common ancestry - true bears.’
      • ‘The bitterest pill to swallow for any Christian who attempts to ‘make peace’ with Darwin is the presumed animal ancestry of man.’
      • ‘Evolution deals with the common ancestry of life on earth.’
      • ‘Lastly, Feduccia advocated the notion that convergent evolution may make the ancestry of birds unknowable.’
      • ‘Simplicity and antiquity of green algae have long been accepted as evidence of their apparent ancestry to land plants.’
      • ‘When a coalescence event occurs, two lines of ancestry are picked, uniformly at random, and are coalesced to form one resulting line.’
      • ‘But it still sits in our DNA, one of many useless remnants testifying to our evolutionary ancestry.’
      • ‘The results of a four-year, £10m-plus project to crack the genetic code of chickens will be released this week, along with a full analysis of their evolution and ancestry.’
      • ‘These are aspects of the body that are claimed to be useless leftovers from our animal ancestry.’
      • ‘Coalescent theory describes the genetic ancestry of a sample and provides the tools for the analysis of intraspecies molecular data.’
      • ‘Estimates of hybrid frequency are conservative because of the limited number of genetic markers available to characterize genetic ancestry.’
      • ‘As we have often pointed out, similarity does not mean proof of common ancestry or evolutionary relatedness.’
      • ‘Our closest relatives, the chimpanzee, the bonobo or pygmy chimpanzee, and the gorilla share with us a common ancestry of genes and genome organization.’
      • ‘Today's tuberous begonias are highly bred plants of South American ancestry.’
      • ‘Evolution cannot be right because scientists do not agree on the mechanism for natural selection and ancestry of various species.’
      congenital characteristics, congenital traits, Genetics, genetic make-up, genes
      View synonyms
  • 2The origin or background of something.

    ‘the book traces the ancestry of women's poetry’
    • ‘I believe that reading children's pictorial books that depict the ancestry of different continents with children can make global education meaningful.’
    • ‘This class is also called ‘tinkers’: whether this name has a common ancestry for both books or this is just a coincidence, I'm not sure.’
    • ‘Seen in this light, contemporary Taiwanese nationalism belongs to a political family with a well-established ancestry.’
    • ‘This is because the African Republic and the Islamic Union have a common ancestry that originated in Northern Africa several thousand years ago.’
    • ‘Neither hotel, it should be said, is shy about installing bright Scandinavian mod-cons to the detriment of its historical ancestry.’


Middle English: alteration of Old French ancesserie, from ancestre (see ancestor).