The phrase "People in old times" sounds clunky and "ancient people" sounds remote and ambiguous.

I'm looking for two terms, one for people about the age of our grandfathers or great grandfathers but who might not be our biological ancestors. And one for people who lived in earlier times but had a profuse cultural or significant history of art development.

The "old times" does not necessarily refer to the west. For example could I say the following?

Our Tutankhamun's forebears

  • Have you tried synonyms (or close) to "ancestors"? It's easy enough to turn up forebear, predecessor, forefather and similar, so can you expand on why those wouldn't work, perhaps with some suitable context (e.g. our Victorian forebears wouldn't...)? – Prof Yaffle May 23 '16 at 13:51
  • Consider "people of a prior generation" (close / recent ancestors) vs your "ancestors" / "ancients" (more distant ancestors). You can use the words in quotes or those in brackets as matching sets. – Lawrence May 23 '16 at 14:06
  • Hey Lawrence, "people of a prior generation" isn't a single word. Hi Prof Yaffle, is "our Victorian forebears" good to be used by people from all the continents? Can we also say "our Tutankhamun's forebears"? – gftern May 23 '16 at 14:48
  • Sorry, I don't understand why there should be a single word for your particular context, especially for the second one. Can you show us an example sentence where that single word would be used? – user140086 May 23 '16 at 15:22
  • Hey Rathony, this is a single-word-requests question, although I asked for two single words. I guess many people do like to use single words if there is any, or there wouldn't be so many requests that kind on this website. – gftern May 23 '16 at 15:26

Perhaps, our forebears, which literally means those who have lived before.

One can employ the word to refer to one's own ancestors, or those of society in general. Context and especially prior pronouns will indicate which meaning is implied e.g. my forebears, our forebears, our family's forebears,the present generation's forebears, the nation's forebears

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  • Thanks for the reply. When talking to friends from other continents, would it be better to say "the forebears of A_PLACE" without using "our"? And, are forebears and ancestors actually exchangeable? – gftern May 23 '16 at 15:20
  • @gftern Places do not have forebears. Though I suppose you could say the forebears of many of the current denizens of Plymouth, would have witnessed the departure of the Mayflower. I would say that forebears and ancestors are very close in meaning, but by all means have a look in a dictionary! – WS2 May 23 '16 at 17:42
  • Is forebears a good term to refer to people in all the continents? – gftern May 24 '16 at 9:42

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