I am searching for the most concise and well-sounding way to say

my foremost inspiration is the photos of previous (deceased) generations.

I cannot find a suitable word or succinct expression to describe something belonging to previous generations that have died out. I also don't want to sound negative by implying the death of previous people.

Moreover, is there a better way of saying: it inspires me? Should I say: I am inspired by?

  • Your last sentence is another question. And the phrase in the title borders on tautology... Aug 27, 2017 at 6:45
  • 1) ask only one question 2) please indicate what research you have done 3) this question appears to me to be writing advice ("the most concise and well-sounding way to say..."), which is offtopic here. You can ask on the Writing stack exchange Aug 27, 2017 at 7:24
  • I think it is a good question. To appease the naysayers, (it's much easier for some users to find minor faults than merits), include the definitions, and synonyms of previous and generation
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 27, 2017 at 8:30
  • dead ancestors
    – Drew
    Aug 27, 2017 at 13:06

4 Answers 4


I would use “bygone” in that context—“bygone generations/times/eras”. Other good alternatives include “past generations” (or “generations past”), “my/our forebears”, or “those that have gone before me/us”.

These don’t all require that the generations in question be deceased, but they can strongly imply it based on context.


Antecedents might work. Strictly speaking, it refers to your own family's ancestors, but it is commonly used to refer to the culture and cohort of your ancestors as well.

Why launch ourselves on this most ambitious of inquiries, if we can loiter instead in the theories of our antecedents?


Our antecedents moved their agriculture into the great river valleys [...]


  • Or decedents...
    – SAH
    Aug 30, 2017 at 4:31


from https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/ancestral :

adj. of or belonging to or inherited from an ancestor

Ancestral things have been around so long that they once belonged to your ancestors, the family members who lived before your grandparents were born.

The implication of "ancestral" is that the people have since died, but without sounding negative.

e.g. "The ancestral pictures on the walls inspire my resolve."


Forebear (MWD)

ancestor, forefather; also : precursor —usually used in plural His forebears fought in the American Civil War.

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