In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word ancestry means “line of descent.” While the word genealogy means “the study of a line of descent.” In other words, you as the genealogist would be using genealogy to study your ancestry. is a free website with both a dictionary and thesaurus. It gives examples, as shown below, of the words used in sentences, to better understand them.

Merriam includes three examples of using the word ancestry:

  1. They claim to be of noble ancestry.
  2. A person of unknown ancestry
  3. She claims to be able to trace her ancestry all the way back
    to the earliest settlers.

And two examples of using the word genealogy:

  1. They’ve been researching their genealogies.
  2. Has a distinguished genealogy that traces back to William
    the Conqueror.

These are two terms, out of many, that you will come across in genealogical and ancestral articles. Other words include bloodline, descent, extraction, heredity, lineage, parentage, pedigree, and succession.

Another free website I use is It is the site I use to translate foreign words and phrases.

In my family tree research, I have found many documents written in Latin, German, and French. One time I came across a German baptism record with the word “der mutter” printed on it. I used the translator, and the English meaning was “the mother.” You can use it in reverse, too. Type in the English word “father” and the German word translates to “vater.” is a free website. It gives you the meaning and history of given names and surnames. An example would be the given name, Abel. The site shows other spellings, such as Abelen (Dutch) and Abelli (Italian). The origin of the word is Hevel or Havel (Hebrew) which meant “breath.” Abel was the second son of Adam and Eve and mentioned in the Old Testament. can also help you find the origin of a name. In one of my searches, I had an American ancestor with the surname, Borisov. I used the website and found its primary usage was in Russia. I then concentrated my search on Russian and Eastern European records.

These are only a few of the websites you can find on the world wide web. If you would like to add a site to this article, please feel free to leave it in the Comments Section below. Thanks, Donna.

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