Definition of ancestor in English:

ancestor

noun

  • 1A person, typically one more remote than a grandparent, from whom one is descended.

    ‘my ancestor Admiral Anson circumnavigated the globe 250 years ago’
    • ‘There are stories my mother has told me of the degradations that my grandparents and their ancestors had to go through.’
    • ‘Like other farmers in the region, Eysteinn viewed his own position in the region within the context of his ancestors and future descendants.’
    • ‘The ancestors watch over their descendants, punishing or rewarding them for their behavior.’
    • ‘All our remote ancestors were prehistoric and studying them is one way of understanding our own origins and evolution.’
    • ‘The white race is anyone directly descended from our European ancestors.’
    • ‘They have a daughter Valerie, as well as two sons, one of whom is the ancestor of the evil Elliot Stokes of 1970.’
    • ‘Nicci knew he would be nothing like his ancestors whom she had long ago met.’
    • ‘Why was he dating someone whom his ancestors told him would only be his downfall?’
    • ‘Every now and then oversees visitors will drop in and it always winds up they sometimes are tracing ancestors or relatives.’
    • ‘Her lack of respect and love for her ancestors, many of whom share a lived memory of Hitler, is appalling.’
    • ‘The family unit has at its head the ancestors followed by the grandparents, the father, the wives and then the children.’
    • ‘A smaller unit is the lineage, a kin group of four or five generations descended from a male ancestor traced though the male line.’
    • ‘Respect for ancestors, grandparents, and elders remains a key element in creating and demonstrating the right attitude.’
    • ‘It was transmitted to me that I was seeing my ancestors, whom I had often thought about.’
    • ‘In principle, all the descendants of a seventh-generation ancestor are members of one extended family.’
    • ‘Yet evolution predicts not just successions of forms, but also genetic lineages from ancestors to descendants.’
    • ‘In other words, we come into the world bearing with us an archetypal endowment which enables us to adapt to reality in the same way as our remote ancestors.’
    • ‘Visiting the remote village where her ancestors lived, Syal retrieves a stone from the ruined family home - now a cowshed.’
    • ‘Did the fact that Welsh kinship in general recognized the claims of a wider family, descending from a more remote ancestor, lead to more bitter disputes here?’
    • ‘She said 1,000 years ago it was a piece of marshy ground forming part of the disputed kingdom of Glamorgan ruled over by descendants of her ancestor Rhodri the Great.’
    forebear, forefather, predecessor, progenitor, antecedent
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An early type of animal or plant from which others have evolved.
      • ‘In order to locate the remote ancestors of turtles, other, more subtle, features must be found.’
      • ‘This indicates that the japonica and indica strains are descended from different ancestors.’
      • ‘Both Effigia and the ostrich dinosaurs would have evolved from a common ancestor that lived long before, the study says.’
      • ‘They argued that the simplest interpretation of this gap was a single-insertion event in a common ancestor shared solely by animals and fungi.’
      • ‘Fossil records show that millions of years ago, cows and pigs shared a common ancestor, an animal that looked more pig than cow.’
      • ‘It is generally accepted that all multicellular animals have evolved from a common ancestor, which itself evolved from a single-celled organism.’
      • ‘For example, from the fact that the human egg is a simple cell, we may at once infer that there has been at a very remote time a unicellular ancestor of the human race resembling an Amoeba.’
      • ‘This may suggest a small population size in a common ancestor of animals.’
      • ‘It is also possible to compare the descendants of a single ancestor to look at patterns of origin and extinction in these groups, or to look at relative size and diversity of the groups.’
      • ‘Closely related animals tend to have similar eyes, because they descend from recent ancestors.’
      • ‘A date this early, at first blush, appears preposterous, for it suggests a common ancestor of land plants that predates land on our planet.’
      • ‘There are two main types, the dome heads and the horned dinosaurs, which evolved from a common ancestor during the early Cretaceous.’
      • ‘But understanding of how these beetles live, and how they evolved from a common ancestor, makes them less mysterious.’
      • ‘In fact, Pandas admits that the fruit flies of Hawaii - a diverse group of more than 300 species - have all evolved from a common ancestor.’
      • ‘Fourteen different finches evolved from a common ancestor, each adapted to suit the conditions of their various islands.’
      • ‘Unlike all other jawed vertebrates, placoderms never had teeth, and did not descend from toothed ancestors.’
      • ‘The historic Mission grape, whose ancestors were planted by the early Spanish settlers, has all but disappeared.’
      • ‘It appears they evolved from a common ancestor in Australia, but the time of their divergence is still unclear.’
      • ‘Species are often assumed to have evolved from a common ancestor by a complete process of branching, followed by complete genetic isolation.’
      • ‘Finally we get to the common ancestor of all animals, plants, protists, and fungi.’
      forebear, forefather, predecessor, progenitor, antecedent
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 An early version of a machine, system, etc.
      ‘this instrument is an ancestor of the lute’
      • ‘This solution is the ancestor of many versions of platonism in mathematics.’
      • ‘It is played on the oud (an ancestor of the lute) and the rebaba (a one-stringed instrument).’
      • ‘It was placed there out of the conviction that it was the ancestor, however remote, of the American constitution and the bill of rights.’
      • ‘An ancient stringed instrument, it is an ancestor of the European lute.’
      • ‘They evolved from a common ancestor but for both nations to play each other at all a hybrid set of rules has had to be devised.’
      • ‘The oud is a popular instrument; it is an ancient stringed instrument that is the ancestor of the European lute.’
      forerunner, precursor, predecessor
      View synonyms

Origin

Middle English: from Old French ancestre, from Latin antecessor, from antecedere, from ante ‘before’ + cedere ‘go’.

Pronunciation

ancestor

/ˈænˌsɛstər//ˈanˌsestər/