Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An ancestor. See Synonyms at ancestor.
  • n. A person who is from an earlier time and has originated or contributed to a common tradition shared by a particular group.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Ancestor (Wikipedia).
  • n. Cultural ancestor; one who originated an idea or tradition.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who precedes another in the line of genealogy in any degree, but usually in a remote degree; an ancestor.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An ancestor; one who precedes another in the line of genealogy in any degree, but usually in a remote degree.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the founder of a family
  • n. person from an earlier time who contributed to the tradition shared by some group

Etymologies

Possibly directly from Old Norse forfaðir. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Take, for example, the fact that while Lovecraft is usually described as a forefather of modern horror fiction, his stories are, to put it bluntly, not very scary.

    - Boing Boing

  • They have a tradition that their forefather was a man of the name of Shayg (شايق), whose four sons gave origin to their principal tribes.

    Travels in Nubia

  • Giotto, the man described as the forefather of the Renaissance movement.

    The Guardian World News

  • 'I am a Sac,' said I; 'my forefather was a Sac; and all the nation call me a Sac.'

    History, Manners, and Customs of the North American Indians

  • The "forefather" of these boats was Johnny Morris with his Bass Pro Tracker package models.

    Tracker Pro team 175

  • I am a "forefather" myself (for I have six children), but I am not the son of a forefather.

    Modern Eloquence: Vol II, After-Dinner Speeches E-O

  • Unknown to us, at time we were deliberating over him, the man famously called the forefather of the City Fiction’ had passed on.

    Archive 2007-11-01

  • Mr Brok, who used to be Mr Wolski's predecessor as the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, was presented as a "forefather" of the Eastern Partnership, as he championed a similar idea three years ago, called the "Neighbourhood Policy Plus" for the same group of countries.

    EUobserver.com - Headline News

  • Then this name problem will look seriously minor in relation to the myriad other issues we'd have to deal with.] [From Mark K: All naming should be matrilineal, since the rate of false paternity over the generations means that people are never descended from their 'forefather' whose name they bear.

    infinite thØught

  • The founders of the United States learned from their intellectual forefather, John Locke, that children should be taught to dance only in a way that “gives graceful motions all the life, and above all things manliness.”

    A Renegade History of the United States

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