ancestry, lineage, pedigree mean either one’s progenitors collectively or their quality or character as a whole. The words, however, are clearly distinguishable.
Ancestry in its most restricted use evokes the image of a family tree with its ramification by geometrical progression of branches or roots the further it is traced forward or backward

only by the fusion of two parent cells can an offspring cell enjoy the advantages of joint heredity and pass on the traits of both ancestriesLa Barre

In broader use ancestry often suggests one’s progenitors in general, known or unknown, a cause of pride often, but sometimes of indifference or of shame

no one is responsible for his ancestry, but his ancestry is to a certain extent responsible for his qualities

Lineage stresses descent in a line; it evokes therefore the image of a list of the persons who in order of generation are descended from a single ancestor

the evangelist Matthew traced the lineage of Jesus by each step from Abraham down


lineage is reckoned through the mother; the Zuñi are matrilineal— Kardiner

For this reason lineage is often used as the equivalent of race

though of a lineage once abhorred— Wordsworth

Pedigree is even more definite in its suggestions, for it implies a known and recorded ancestry that is typically distinguished or notable

who proud of pedigree, is poor of purse— Pope


the deference due to a man of pedigreeGilbert

The term is applied to the ancestry of persons, and to that of animals and plants propagated under controlled conditions.
Antonyms: descendants: posterity

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • ancestry — I noun affiliation, ascendants, blood, blood relationship, blood tie, bloodline, cognation, connection, consanguinity, derivation, descent, family, family connection, family tree, filiation, forebears, forefathers, former generations, genealogy,… …   Law dictionary

  • Ancestry — An ces*try, n. [Cf. OF. ancesserie. See {Ancestor}.] 1. Condition as to ancestors; ancestral lineage; hence, birth or honorable descent. [1913 Webster] Title and ancestry render a good man more illustrious, but an ill one more contemptible.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ancestry — (n.) early 14c., from O.Fr. ancesserie ancestry, ancestors, forefathers, from ancestre (see ANCESTOR (Cf. ancestor)); spelling modified in English by influence of ancestor …   Etymology dictionary

  • ancestry — [n] family predecessors; family history ancestor, antecedent, antecessor, blood, breed, breeding, derivation, descent, extraction, forebear, forefather, foregoer, foremother, forerunner, genealogy, heritage, house, kindred, line, lineage, origin …   New thesaurus

  • ancestry — ► NOUN (pl. ancestries) ▪ a person s ancestors or ethnic origins …   English terms dictionary

  • ancestry — [an′ses΄trē; ] also [, an′səstrē, an′sistrē] n. pl. ancestries [ME ancestrie < OFr ancesserie < ancestre, ANCESTOR] 1. family descent or lineage 2. ancestors collectively: opposed to POSTERITY 3. noble or distinguished descent …   English World dictionary

  • ancestry — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ common, shared ▪ The two species have developed from a common ancestry. ▪ African, Japanese, etc. VERB + ANCESTRY …   Collocations dictionary

  • ancestry — n. 1) to trace one s ancestry 2) of (a certain) ancestry (to be of French ancestry) * * * [ ænsəstrɪ] to trace one s ancestry of (a certain) ancestry (to be of French ancestry) …   Combinatory dictionary

  • ancestry — an|ces|try [ˈænsəstri, ses US ses ] n plural ancestries [C usually singular, U] formal the members of your family who lived a long time ago of ... ancestry ▪ Her mother is of German ancestry (=has German ancestors) . ▪ Helen s family can trace… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • ancestry — /an ses tree/ or, esp. Brit., / seuh stree/, n., pl. ancestries. 1. family or ancestral descent; lineage. 2. honorable or distinguished descent: famous by title and ancestry. 3. a series of ancestors: His ancestry settled Utah. 4. the inception… …   Universalium

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