Alternative formsEdit


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 accusative antecessorem, from antecedo (to go before); ante (before) + cedo (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.

Usage notesEdit



Derived termsEdit



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

  1. 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?