[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
Together, our ancestors made this country what it is today.
It follows that our ancestors who believed in the shaman's stick-waving, or
  whatever he did, would consequently be healthier.
To say that our ancestors lived in a zero sum world is to say that they did not
Whether the ancestors to modern snakes lost their limbs at sea or on land has
  been the subject of debate for over a century.
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