[ an-ses-ter or, especially British, -suh-ster ]
See synonyms for: ancestorancestors on

  1. a person from whom one is descended; forebear; progenitor.

  2. Biology. the actual or hypothetical form or stock from which an organism has developed or descended.

  1. an object, idea, style, or occurrence serving as a prototype, forerunner, or inspiration to a later one: The balloon is an ancestor of the modern dirigible.

  2. a person who serves as an influence or model for another; one from whom mental, artistic, spiritual, etc., descent is claimed: a philosophical ancestor.

  3. Law. a person from whom an heir derives an inheritance.

Origin of ancestor

1250–1300; Middle English ancestre<Old French (with t developed between s and r) <Latin antecessorantecessor

Words that may be confused with ancestor

Words Nearby ancestor Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ancestor in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ancestor


/ (ˈænsɛstə) /

  1. (often plural) a person from whom another is directly descended, esp someone more distant than a grandparent; forefather

  2. an early type of animal or plant from which a later, usually dissimilar, type has evolved

  1. a person or thing regarded as a forerunner of a later person or thing: the ancestor of the modern camera

Origin of ancestor

C13: from Old French ancestre, from Late Latin antecēssor one who goes before, from Latin antecēdere; see antecede

Derived forms of ancestor

  • ancestress, fem n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012