Definitions

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

  • n. A direct ancestor. See Synonyms at ancestor.
  • n. An originator of a line of descent; a precursor.
  • n. An originator; a founder: progenitors of the new music.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A forefather, any of a person's direct ancestors
  • n. An individual from whom one or more people (dynasty, tribe, nation...) are descended.
  • n. An ancestral form of a species
  • n. A predecessor of something, especially if also a precursor or model.
  • n. Someone who originates something.
  • n. A founder

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An ancestor in the direct line; a forefather.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An ancestor in the direct line; a forefather; a parent.

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

  • n. an ancestor in the direct line

Etymologies

Middle English progenitour, from Old French progeniteur, from Latin prōgenitor, from prōgenitus, past participle of prōgignere, to beget : prō-, forward; see pro-1 + gignere, gen-, to beget; see genə- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Middle French progeniteur (Modern French progéniteur), from Latin progenitor, from progenitus, perfect participle of progignere ("to beget"), itself from pro- ("forth") + gignere ("to beget"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Another obvious literary progenitor is Cormac McCarthy: Reading "Smonk" conjured up the memory of murderous necrophile Lester Ballard from McCarthy's "Child of God."

    Around & About

  • The progenitor is a crook named Armen Boladian who forged George Clinton's signature on an assignment of copyright and has now become a one-man lawsuit factory who threatens legal action against the entire hip-hop world (avid Clinton samplers) unless they pay him tribute.

    Boing Boing: November 12, 2006 - November 18, 2006 Archives

  • Male pattern baldness: A decline in activity by a special type of stem cell, known as a progenitor cell, found in human hair follicles appears to be responsible for male pattern baldness, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

    Getting Closer to the Root of What Causes Baldness

  • Doctors will inject a derivative of stem cells, called progenitor cells, that manufacture myelin, the substance that coats the long, spindly projections on nerve cells, much the same way that insulation coats electrical wires.

    Stem-Cell Breakthrough

  • NICHOLAS CHRONOS, SAINT JOSEPH'S HOSPITAL: The earlier cells that what are called progenitor cells, and they appear to be on the route to become muscle cells.

    CNN Transcript Feb 18, 2006

  • CHRONOS: The earlier cells that are what are called progenitor cells, and they appear to be on the route to become muscle cells.

    CNN Transcript Feb 15, 2006

  • You have been called the progenitor of the modern African novel, and Things Fall Apart has maintained its resonance in the decades since it was written.

    An African Voice

  • {Cain is referred to as a progenitor of Grendel, and of monsters in general.}

    Beowulf An Anglo-Saxon Epic Poem

  • There was, of course, a beginning of human life on earth; and we may, just as we please, call the progenitor "Manu" or "Adam."

    India, Its Life and Thought

  • Jacob fled ... served -- Though ye pride yourselves on the great name of "Israel," forget not that your progenitor was the same Jacob who was

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

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