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a person from whom one is descended; forebear; progenitor.
Biology. the actual or hypothetical form or stock from which an organism has developed or descended.
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.
a person who serves as an influence or model for another; one from whom mental, artistic, spiritual, etc., descent is claimed:
a philosophical ancestor.
Law. a person from whom an heir derives an inheritance.
Contemporary Examples

It is possible to name an ancestor to this obsessive-compulsive noir: David Lynch.
‘True Detective,’ Obsessive-Compulsive Noir, and ‘Twin Peaks’ Jimmy So March 13, 2014

“That’s the best, that’s the best we can do as parents,” Yo-Yo said of his ancestor’s advice.
The Mystery of Yo-Yo Ma’s Name Henry Louis Gates, Jr. February 8, 2010

So a story prefigures Light in August, just as an ancestor precedes a descendant.
C.E. Morgan: ‘Light in August’ is Faulkner’s Great American Novel C.E. Morgan August 15, 2012

Soon after he was seen stumping for the Assad regime in his ancestor’s conflagrated homeland.
Abdel el-Zabayar: From Parliament to the Frontlines Mac Margolis September 14, 2013

That “digital” gesture is a reminder that weavings are the ancestor of today’s computer-treated images.
Hand-Knotted Pixels Blake Gopnik June 10, 2012

Historical Examples

The next day he would say: ‘I come to bring a sword’–that was the noble German blood of a Teutonic ancestor.
City of Endless Night Milo Hastings

The fate of the ancestor had been typical of that of his descendants.
The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle

But the disgrace of their ancestor has always been keenly felt by them.
The American Revolution John Fiske

An Artaud, their ancestor, had come hither and settled like a pariah in this waste.
Abbe Mouret’s Transgression Emile Zola

This represents a particular form of animism, for the soul of the ancestor is thought to become a god.
Elements of Folk Psychology Wilhelm Wundt

(often pl) a person from whom another is directly descended, esp someone more distant than a grandparent; forefather
an early type of animal or plant from which a later, usually dissimilar, type has evolved
a person or thing regarded as a forerunner of a later person or thing: the ancestor of the modern camera

c.1300, ancestre, antecessour, from Old French ancestre (12c., Modern French ancêtre), 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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  • Ancestral

    pertaining to ; descending or claimed from : an ancestral home. serving as a forerunner, prototype, or inspiration. Contemporary Examples She turned that ancestral home into a school—and is fighting to give girls a better future. A Fashionista’s India Dream: Indrani Changes the Fate of Forgotten Girls Abigail Pesta July 9, 2012 Even tony Greenwich, […]

  • Ancestress

    a woman from whom a person is descended. Historical Examples He had a tale to tell about one ancestress, whose dark beauty seemed as that of a flower of the south. Shirley Charlotte Bront The girl read and re-read the description of this ancestress, then gasped. The Roof Tree Charles Neville Buck The family name […]

  • Anatomic

    of or relating to . Contemporary Examples Should thrombosis occur in this anatomic area, a patient might have headaches, dizziness, or even stroke-like symptoms. How Serious Is Hillary Clinton’s Blood Clot and Hospitalization? Kent Sepkowitz December 30, 2012 Though the risks for the new oral cancer and its anatomic location have changed fundamentally, one epidemiologic […]

  • Shcharansky

    (Natan) Anatoly [nah-tahn an-uh-toh-lee;; Russian uh-nuh-taw-lyee] /nɑˈtɑn ˌæn əˈtoʊ li;; Russian ʌ nʌˈtɔ lyi/ (Show IPA), born 1948, Soviet mathematician and human-rights activist, in Israel since 1986.

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