: ancestor, forefather; also: precursor
Did You Know?
Forebear (also spelled, less commonly, as forbear) was first used by our ancestors in the days of Middle English. Fore- means “coming before,” just as in forefather, and -bear means “one that is.” This -bear is not to be confused with the -bear in the unrelated verb forbear, which comes from Old English beran, meaning “to bear or carry.” The -bear in the noun forebear is a combination of be-, from the verb be (or, more specifically, from been, an old dialect variant of be), and -ar, a form of the suffix -er, which we append to verbs to denote one that performs a specified action. In this case the “action” is simply existing or being—in other words, -bear implies one who is a “be-er.”
Although several of her male forebears had graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Tina was the first woman from her family to do so.
“Imagine what must have gone through the minds of our ancient Paleolithic forebears at such a spectacle. They had no modern technology, little information about eclipses, no foreknowledge at all of such events.” — Pete Koutoulas, The Winchester (Kentucky) Sun, 21 Aug. 2020