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From Middle English forefader, forfader, vorvader, from Old English fōrefæder (forefather), but possibly also merged with Old Norse forfaðir. Equivalent to fore- +‎ father. Compare Dutch voorvader (forefather), German Vorvater, Vorvahr (forefather), Danish forfader (forefather), Swedish förfader (forefather).



forefather (plural forefathers)

  1. Ancestor.Wp
    • 1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter II, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326:
      His forefathers had been, as a rule, professional men—physicians and lawyers; his grandfather died under the walls of Chapultepec Castle while twisting a tourniquet for a cursing dragoon; an uncle remained indefinitely at Malvern Hill; an only brother at Montauk Point having sickened in the trenches before Santiago.
  2. Cultural ancestor; one who originated an idea or tradition.