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.
  3. 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.
  4. a person who serves as an influence or model for another; one from whom mental, artistic, spiritual, etc., descent is claimed: a philosophical ancestor.
  5. Law. a person from whom an heir derives an inheritance.


  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
  3. a person or thing regarded as a forerunner of a later person or thingthe ancestor of the modern camera

c.1300, ancestre, antecessour, from Old French ancestre (12c., Modern French ancĂȘtre), from Late Latin antecessor “predecessor,” literally “foregoer,” agent noun from past participle stem of Latin antecedere “to precede,” from ante- “before” (see ante) + cedere “to go” (see cede). Current form from early 15c. Feminine form ancestress recorded from 1570s.

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