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There are a lot of words describing ancestral relationships between people, such as:

any of the above can be described as an "ancestor".

any of the above can be described as a "descendant".

I am wondering if there are single words (nouns) which describe any of the following concepts:

A person and all of his/her ancestors
A person or any of his/her ancestors
A person and all of his/her descendants
A person or any of his/her descendants

Any ideas?

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Lineage comes to mind (as did Line but I prefer lineage)

  1. lineal descent from an ancestor; ancestry or extraction: She could trace her lineage to the early Pilgrims.
  2. the line of descendants of a particular ancestor; family; race.

Since there is some discussion about whether or not the person itself belongs to the lineage, I offer this ngram of "last of his lineage"

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Correct. Although lineage is considered a synonym of line, it being derived from line (see my answer), is more often used in a renounification sense. Our lineage should be more common than We are the lineage. – Kris Feb 13 '14 at 10:03
I considered Line, but prefer lineage – mplungjan Feb 13 '14 at 10:08
That's fine, too, but I see a difference as I said. – Kris Feb 13 '14 at 10:09
@mplungjan: Does "lineage" mean "A person and all of his/her ancestors", as per the OP's request? I thought "lineage" was more like a single line of ancestors back to a particular ancestor, but excluding the person themselves. – Algernon_Asimov Feb 13 '14 at 14:45
I disagree. But that is just my opinion. The list comprises the head AND tail both. The person is the head and the tail is his ancestors. The list is his lineage of which he is the last unless he has children. goo.gl/Ndy171 – mplungjan Feb 13 '14 at 22:00

For all of his descendants, progeny (google's def):

a descendant or the descendants of a person, animal, or plant; offspring.

For all of his anscestors, you can use forebears:

an ancestor

OR forefathers / foremothers

OR primogenitors:

an ancestor, esp. the earliest ancestor of a people; a progenitor.

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For most purposes in general English writing, where readability is more important than terminology, the familiar, well understood word line should eminently serve the purpose, with its meaning amply clear from the context.


a. Ancestry or lineage.
b. A series of persons, especially from one family, who succeed each other: a line of monarchs; comes from a long line of bankers.

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I'd think that you could refer to a person's dynasty as including themselves and their ancestors/descendants, but it carries connotations of nobility that might be unwanted.

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While perhaps more often used to describe a depiction of the relationships, the term family tree is often used for the relationships themselves

The ancestors and descendants of a family considered as a group

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In legal language you might see, the decedent and his descendants per stirpes, but this relates to line as above.

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The phrase "ourselves and our posterity" has been used to convey a similar meaning.

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the OP specifically asked for a single-word meaning. :) – medica Feb 14 '14 at 1:47
Of course you're right, but I couldn't think of one. I'm sure Gouverneur Morris spent many hours phrasing the preamble to the United States Constitution, and neither he nor any of the other talented men at the Philadelphia Convention could do any better, well, I don't think I there is anything better! – Marc Feb 14 '14 at 17:39
The framers of the constitution are not responsible for your inability to deliver an answer. Opinion is what "comments" are for, and you have enough rep to make them. Use it. It's considered a privilege. – medica Feb 15 '14 at 0:39
Light humor. Some people like it, some people don't. Sorry you feel offended. – Marc Feb 16 '14 at 2:12

Not really. The word that is nearest to what you are seeking is genealogy.

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