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By ancestors, I mean entities and things that affected it and what it is. By offspring, I mean the opposite - things that it affected and molded.

I thought of "spiderweb," but this would be referring to the center of the web, and it doesn't really express the above but more so just very connected.


Rephrased: I am looking for a way to represent an idea that is very pervasive but also is a culmination of many other ideas.

One example from the past might be astronomy and telescopes. It stems from the mythical stories of the Greeks and Romans in naming constellations as well as astrology. That's the "emotional" side of astronomy, essentially a religious basis. It also comes from mathematics and geometry, which finally proved things like the curvature of the earth, its position in space, orbital periods, etc - the technical side. When I said "offspring," that applies here in the sense that there are many results because of astronomy, such as space travel, GPS, photography, etc.

Another example could be electricity. It began with physics experimentation, the technical side, and an inspirational battle between Nikola Tesla (who wanted to make electricity free) and Thomas Edison (who wanted to commercialize it), which is the non-technical "dreamy" side. Today, electricity has pervaded almost everything - that is the "offspring", I don't think that needs to be explained.

  • Unix – Phil Sweet Jul 22 '18 at 1:04
  • Broadly, could you please re-phrase everything you posted at least two different ways, just for clarity? Where did you get the idea you could redefine those or any other terms, please? By “ancestors” most people mean what their dictionaries say which is hardly similar to your “entities and things that affected it and what it is.” Similarly, by offspring, can you name two or three people who understand, let alone advocate “things that it affected and molded…” When you thought of "spiderweb," why would referring to the center of the web in particular make any difference, please? – Robbie Goodwin Aug 4 '18 at 21:36
  • I have added something, does that explain it sort of? – Rithwik Sudharsan Aug 5 '18 at 1:15
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I think that the concepts "having many ancestors" and "having many offspring" are different enough that they require separate explanations.

With the exception of a newly-synthesized life form, every living thing has many ancestors, so I would ignore the sense of biological lineage here, and suggest the word impressionable, defined by Cambridge Dictionary as

"easily influenced."

A living thing that has many offspring can be called prolific, defined as

"producing a great number or amount of something."

If you're looking for a non-biological connotation for the second term, you can use the word influential, defined as

"having a lot of influence."

Alternately, if you're trying to indicate a large degree of social connectedness, then highly-connected is a good choice.

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Interestingly, lineage (Merriam-Webster) only seems to refer to the past leading to the present, and doesn't include the idea of future generations.

Rather than ancestors and descendants (or a spiderweb), I would suggest the metaphor of your life being a single thread in a tapestry, with other people's lives being other threads.

If you pull on a thread, it has an affect on all of the threads around it, as well as the tapestry as a whole. We all contribute to the overall pattern, and are all affected by those around us. The closer our thread is to another, the greater the other thread affects us (and vice-versa)—even though everything affects us at some level.

Each thread of a tapestry (aside from those at an end or side . . .) has many threads both before it and after it.

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