What is the suitable Japanese word for "ancestors" or "forefathers". I have tried many dictionaries but there are many words Japanese words for these two words. I've heard that there are some words in Japanese language that we can't use them in our day to day activities (that means use in essays, spoken etc). Therefore I am confused what to choose from those words.

The answers are highly appreciated.

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    jisho.org/search/ancestor – Blavius May 1 '17 at 5:05
  • @I_am_feminist Have you tried a dictionary? – Chocolate May 1 '17 at 9:23
  • yes @Chocolate i tried many dictionaries,but there are many japanese words for the words ancestors and forefathers. Therefore i can't distinguish that what is the suitable word to use in my essay. – I_am_feminist May 1 '17 at 13:05

To mean forefathers and ancestors, we usually use "祖先" called そせん or "先祖" called せんぞ, both of which mean people who lived former ages before the present and have lineages. They are used like "私の祖先は、大名だった。", for example.

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  • It means that I can use either 祖先 or 先祖 ❓ – I_am_feminist May 1 '17 at 13:10
  • Yes. As these are composed of the same characters, they mean almost the same meaning. But generally, 先祖 tend to mean smaller things than 祖先, and tend to mean forefathers of an individual or a family, while 祖先 tend to mean forefathers of a society or humankind, etc. – Motoki May 2 '17 at 1:13
  • Your explanation was really helpful for me. Thank you. @Motoki – I_am_feminist May 3 '17 at 1:43

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