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ancestor

Definition of Ancestor

(noun) An individual from whom you are descended.

Examples of Ancestor

Ancestor Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: an·ces·tor

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˈænˌsɛstər/
  • British English – /ˈansɛstə/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: ancestors
  • Ancestor worship refers to the honoring the dead spirits (ancestor spirits) of an individual’s or group’s ancestors. Ancestors may be asked for help through prayer or have sacrifices given in their honor to stop them from harming living people.
  • Ancestress is a rarely used feminine form of ancestor.
  • An ancestor comes before you and a descendant comes after you.
  • Also called:
    • forefather
    • forebear
    • progenitor
  • An individual’s or group’s (noun) ancestry describes descent or (adjective) ancestral line.

Additional Information

Related Terms


Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. 2011. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Collins English Dictionary: Complete and Unabridged. 6th ed. 2003. Glasgow, Scotland: Collins.

Ember, Carol R., and Melvin Ember, eds. 2003. Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: Men and Women in the World’s Cultures. New York: Springer.

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Ancestor

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “ancestor.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved November 19, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/ancestor/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

ancestor. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/ancestor/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “ancestor.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed November 19, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/ancestor/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“ancestor.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/ancestor/>.