Saturday, September 5, 2009


Progenitor (noun)Pronunciation: [prê-'jen-ê-tê(r)]

Definition: (1) The originator or original ancestor of a line of descent, a direct ancestor; (2) the founder of a family; (3) the originator of anything, a founder, as the progenitor of a philosophical school.Usage: A progenitor produces progeny, the descendants of a single ancestor (or pair thereof). Back when English was allowed to distinguish between males and females, a female progenitor was known as a progenitrix (plural "progenitrices"). The state or stature of being a progenitor is "progenitorship" and the adjective for this noun is "progenitorial."

Suggested Usage: The white families who claimed President Thomas Jefferson as their progenitor were recently confronted by black families who claimed (with reason) to be the progeny of the same man. Jefferson was certainly one of the progenitors of our system of government. While Jews and Christians hold Adam and Eve to be the progenitors of all humankind, it is certainly true that we are all progeny of one couple at some point way back in prehistorical time.Etymology: From Latin "progenitor," the noun of progignere "to beget."

This word is based on pro- "forward" + gignere, gen- "to beget," containing the same gen- that we see in "generate," "generation," "gender" and "genus." It appears without the vowel all but hidden in "pregnant," from the Latin word meaning "before giving birth." In English this root became "kin," also seen in "kindred" from Old English cyn "race, family, kin" but also "king" from a time when ruling had genetic connotations. "Kind" originally meant pretty much the same thing as Latin "genus," so it should come as no surprise that they both derived from the same Proto-Indo-European root word. –

Dr. Language, Your

This word appear on my "Word of the Day" list and I thought it was very applicable to genealogy. We have many progenitors that make us what we are today.

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