[an-ses-ter or, esp. British, -suh-ster]
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.

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

ancestor, descendant. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
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
3.  a person or thing regarded as a forerunner of a later person or thing: the ancestor of the modern camera
[C13: from Old French ancestre, from Late Latin antecēssor one who goes before, from Latin antecēdere; see antecede]
fem n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.Fr. ancestre (Mod.Fr. ancêtre), from L.L. antecessor "predecessor," lit. "foregoer," agent noun from L. antecessus, pp. of antecedere "precede," agent noun from ante- "before" (see ante) + cedere "to go" (see cede). Fem. form ancestress recorded from 1570s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Its primitive anatomy, he contends, suggests a species predating the common
  ancestor of the human and chimpanzee family trees.
The result is the first creature since the beginning of creatures that has no
The chimp s ancestor stayed in the tree our ancestor came down to the water.
Our common primate ancestor lived six million years ago.
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