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archaic

[ahr-key-ik]
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adjective
  1. marked by the characteristics of an earlier period; antiquated: an archaic manner; an archaic notion.
  2. (of a linguistic form) commonly used in an earlier time but rare in present-day usage except to suggest the older time, as in religious rituals or historical novels. Examples: thou; wast; methinks; forsooth.
  3. forming the earliest stage; prior to full development: the archaic period of psychoanalytic research.
  4. (often initial capital letter) pertaining to or designating the style of the fine arts, especially painting and sculpture, developed in Greece from the middle 7th to the early 5th century b.c., chiefly characterized by an increased emphasis on the human figure in action, naturalistic proportions and anatomical structure, simplicity of volumes, forms, or design, and the evolution of a definitive style for the narrative treatment of subject matter.Compare classical(def 6), Hellenistic(def 5).
  5. primitive; ancient; old: an archaic form of animal life.

Origin of archaic

1825–35; (< F) < Greek archaïkós antiquated, old-fashioned, equivalent to archaî(os) old + -ikos -ic
Related formsar·cha·i·cal·ly, adverbpseu·do·ar·cha·ic, adjectivepseu·do·ar·cha·i·cal·ly, adverb
Can be confusedarchaic obsolescent obsolete

Usage note

Archaic is used as a label in this dictionary for terms and definitions that were current roughly as late as 1900 but are now employed only as conscious archaisms, as described and exemplified in definition 2 above. An archaic term is generally more recognizable, as when encountered in literature, than one labeled Obsolete.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for archaic

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The original telegraph of Morse, exhibited in 1837, has become an archaic form.

  • Archaic, primitive, so ancient as to be rude, or at least extremely simple.

    Architecture

    Thomas Roger Smith

  • He is a diplomatist, an ecclesiastic, an embodiment of all that is severe and archaic in authority.

    Italy, the Magic Land

    Lilian Whiting

  • Archaic and variable spelling and hyphenation are preserved.

    Browning's England

    Helen Archibald Clarke

  • Archaic and variable spelling is preserved, including pic-nic.

    What the Blackbird said

    Mrs. Frederick Locker


British Dictionary definitions for archaic

archaic

adjective
  1. belonging to or characteristic of a much earlier period; ancient
  2. out of date; antiquatedan archaic prison system
  3. (of idiom, vocabulary, etc) characteristic of an earlier period of a language and not in ordinary use
Derived Formsarchaically, adverb

Word Origin

C19: from French archaïque, from Greek arkhaïkos, from arkhaios ancient, from arkhē beginning, from arkhein to begin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for archaic

adj.

1810, from or by influence of French archaique (1776), ultimately from Greek arkhaikos "old-fashioned," from arkhaios "ancient," from arkhe "beginning" (see archon). Archaical is attested from 1799.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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