[ jee-nee-ol-uh-jee, -al-, jen-ee- ]
/ ˌdʒi niˈɒl ə dʒi, -ˈæl-, ˌdʒɛn i- /
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See synonyms for: genealogy / genealogical on Thesaurus.com

noun, plural ge·ne·al·o·gies.
a record or account of the ancestry and descent of a person, family, group, etc.
the study of family ancestries and histories.
descent from an original form or progenitor; lineage; ancestry.
Biology. a group of individuals or species having a common ancestry: The various species of Darwin's finches form a closely knit genealogy.
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Origin of genealogy

First recorded in1250–1300; Middle English genealogie, from Middle French, from Late Latin geneālogia, from Greek geneālogía “pedigree,” equivalent to geneā́ “race” + -logia noun suffix; see gene -logy

synonym study for genealogy

1. See pedigree.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is genealogy?

Genealogy is the study of ancestry and descent of a person or a family.

Genealogy can also refer to the actual chart detailing this information. This is often called a family tree.

Genealogy is the process of studying someone’s ancestors and descendants and trying to record their family history and relatives. For example, if you decide to learn more about your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on (that is, your ancestors), you are practicing genealogy. If you decide to learn more about President Theodore Roosevelt’s children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on (that is, his descendants), you are also practicing genealogy.

In biology, the word genealogy is used to describe a group of individuals or species that have a common ancestry. For example, a biologist might be interested in the genealogy of dogs and wolves when researching how they became separated from each other.

Why is genealogy important?

The first records of the word genealogy come from around 1250. It ultimately comes from the Greek word geneālogía, meaning “pedigree.” Your pedigree is your line of ancestors and descendants or the chart used to show their relationship to you and to each other.

Genealogy has been practiced since ancient times. Prior to written language, singers and storytellers would pass on oral histories of families and ancestors. A common trend throughout history (which appears to have been a worldwide phenomena) is that genealogy was used to show that a person was somehow related to a legendary or important figure from the past.

Today, genealogy is often practiced simply out of curiosity. Many paid services online will study your own family history, and you can do some amateur genealogy yourself by tracking down documents such as military service records, immigration paperwork, and wills to help you identify family members and their relationship to you.

Did you know … ?

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the individual with the largest documented genealogy is the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, who died around 478 b.c.e. Confucius’s family line has been charted through 86 generations, and he has over 2 million officially recorded descendants!

What are real-life examples of genealogy?

Even in modern times, people are fascinated by their own genealogy and often attempt to discover previously unknown ancestors.


What other words are related to genealogy?

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Genealogy is the study of a person’s family history and the record of their ancestors and descendents.

How to use genealogy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for genealogy

/ (ˌdʒiːnɪˈælədʒɪ) /

noun plural -gies
the direct descent of an individual or group from an ancestor
the study of the evolutionary development of animals and plants from earlier forms
a chart showing the relationships and descent of an individual, group, genes, etc

Derived forms of genealogy

genealogical (ˌdʒiːnɪəˈlɒdʒɪkəl) or genealogic, adjectivegenealogically, adverbgenealogist, noun

Word Origin for genealogy

C13: from Old French genealogie, from Late Latin geneālogia, from Greek, from genea race
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

Medical definitions for genealogy

[ jē′nē-ŏlə-jē, -ăl-, jĕn′ē- ]

A record or table of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or ancestors; a family tree.
The study or investigation of ancestry and family histories.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.