[ eyn-shuhnt ]
See synonyms for: ancientancientsancientness on

  1. of or in time long past, especially before the end of the Western Roman Empire a.d. 476: ancient history.

  2. dating from a remote period; of great age: ancient rocks;ancient trees.

  1. very old; aged: She's fifteen, which is ancient for a dog that size.

  2. being old in wisdom and experience; venerable.

  3. old-fashioned or antique.

  1. a person who lived in ancient times.

  2. one of the classical writers of antiquity.

  1. a very old or aged person, especially if venerable or patriarchal.

  2. ancients,

    • Usually the ancients . the civilized peoples, nations, or cultures of antiquity, as the Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, and Egyptians.

    • the writers, artists, and philosophers of ancient times, especially those of Greece and Rome.

Origin of ancient

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English auncien, from Anglo-French; Old French ancien, from unattested Vulgar Latin antiānus, equivalent to Latin ante(ā) “before”+ -ānus adjective suffix; late Middle English forms with -t- developed by confusion with the present participle ending -nt; see -an, ante-, -ent

synonym study For ancient

2, 3. Ancient, antiquated, antique, old-fashioned refer to something dating from the past. Ancient implies existence or first occurrence in a distant past: an ancient custom. Antiquated connotes something too old or no longer useful: an antiquated building. Antique suggests a curious or pleasing quality in something old: antique furniture. Old-fashioned may disparage something as being out of date or may approve something old as being superior: an old-fashioned hat; old-fashioned courtesy.

Other words for ancient

Opposites for ancient

Other words from ancient

  • an·cient·ness, noun

Words Nearby ancient

Other definitions for ancient (2 of 2)

[ eyn-shuhnt ]

  1. the bearer of a flag.

  2. a flag, banner, or standard; ensign.

Origin of ancient

First recorded in 1550–60; variant of ensign by confusion with ancient1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ancient in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ancient (1 of 2)


/ (ˈeɪnʃənt) /

  1. dating from very long ago: ancient ruins

  2. very old; aged

  1. of the far past, esp before the collapse of the Western Roman Empire (476 ad): Compare medieval, modern

  2. law having existed since before the time of legal memory

  1. (often plural) a member of a civilized nation in the ancient world, esp a Greek, Roman, or Hebrew

  2. (often plural) one of the classical authors of Greek or Roman antiquity

  1. archaic an old man

Origin of ancient

C14: from Old French ancien, from Vulgar Latin anteanus (unattested), from Latin ante before

Derived forms of ancient

  • ancientness, noun

British Dictionary definitions for ancient (2 of 2)


/ (ˈeɪnʃənt) /

  1. a flag or other banner; standard

  2. a standard-bearer; ensign

Origin of ancient

C16: changed from ensign through the influence of ancient 1

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