9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[an-ses-ter or, esp. British, -suh-ster] /ˈæn sɛs tər or, esp. British, -sə stər/
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.
Origin of ancestor
1250-1300; Middle English ancestre < Old French (with t developed between s and r) < Latin antecessor antecessor
Can be confused
ancestor, descendant. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ancestor
  • Its primitive anatomy, he contends, suggests a species predating the common ancestor of the human and chimpanzee family trees.
  • They then extrapolated back along the bat family tree to calculate how big the brain of the common ancestor of living bats was.
  • The result is the first creature since the beginning of creatures that has no ancestor.
  • The chimp s ancestor stayed in the tree our ancestor came down to the water.
  • Our common primate ancestor lived six million years ago.
  • Clearly, the common genes suggest that the viruses share a common ancestor.
  • Bopp's and the monarch's shared ancestor might be is unknown.
  • For that matter our closest ancestor the chimpanzee eats meat in the form of monkeys, and such.
  • The creature is believed to be the extinct aquatic ancestor of scorpions and possibly of all arachnids.
  • Scientists today announced the discovery of the oldest fossil skeleton of a human ancestor.
British Dictionary definitions for ancestor


(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
Derived Forms
ancestress, noun:feminine
Word Origin
C13: from Old French ancestre, from Late Latin antecēssor one who goes before, from Latin antecēdere; see antecede
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
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Word Origin and History for ancestor

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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