marked by the characteristics of an earlier period; antiquated:
an archaic manner; an archaic notion.
(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.
forming the earliest stage; prior to full development:
the archaic period of psychoanalytic research.
(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 (def 6), (def 5).
primitive; ancient; old:
an archaic form of animal life.
Contemporary Examples

There was one daunting, archaic elevator, and a flight of stairs with no lights.
The Model Diaries: Show Me Your Best ‘Racist’ Anonymous December 7, 2013

I admired their bejeweled medals and dazzling crowns and archaic castles.
What I Saw at the Revolution Porochista Khakpour February 10, 2009

This twisted defense of colonialism is as repulsive as it is supremacist and archaic.
Nakba Denials Must Be Condemned Yousef Munayyer May 24, 2011

Your neighbors should not have to pay the cost of this archaic behavior of yours.
The Fireplace Delusion: A Metaphor for Religious Belief Sam Harris February 2, 2012

Texas Red Braised Beef Short Ribs by Matt and Ted Lee In Texas, “red” is archaic slang for chili con carne.
The Perfect Braise December 21, 2009

Historical Examples

The form suggests the wooden and horn spoons of the modern tribes and may have originated in their archaic prototypes.
Ancient Pottery of the Mississippi Valley William H. Holmes

He is a diplomatist, an ecclesiastic, an embodiment of all that is severe and archaic in authority.
Italy, the Magic Land Lilian Whiting

What Thanet thought of it all, the little island kept secret, hiding its surmises in the thicket of her own archaic forests.
The Nest of the Sparrowhawk Baroness Orczy

archaic and variable spelling is preserved, including pic-nic.
What the Blackbird said Mrs. Frederick Locker

archaic spelling of ‘encrease’ and ‘encreased’ retained; three occurrences of ‘increase’ etc. also retained Pg 52 et al.
The Perambulations of a Bee and a Butterfly Elizabeth Sandham

belonging to or characteristic of a much earlier period; ancient
out of date; antiquated: an archaic prison system
(of idiom, vocabulary, etc) characteristic of an earlier period of a language and not in ordinary use

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.


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  • Archaic homo sapiens

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  • Old latin

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    a conventional representation of the mouth characterized by slightly upturned corners of the lips, found especially on Greek sculpture produced prior to the 5th century b.c.

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