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of or in time long past, especially before the end of the Western Roman Empire a.d. 476:
ancient history.
dating from a remote period; of great age:
ancient rocks; ancient trees.
very old; aged:
an ancient folk tale.
being old in wisdom and experience; venerable.
old-fashioned or antique.
a person who lived in ancient times.
one of the classical writers of antiquity.
a very old or aged person, especially if venerable or patriarchal.

the civilized peoples, nations, or cultures of antiquity, as the Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, and Egyptians (usually preceded by the).
the writers, artists, and philosophers of ancient times, especially those of Greece and Rome.

the bearer of a flag.
a flag, banner, or standard; ensign.
Contemporary Examples

It is a tranquil moment, and my afternoon panic attack seems like ancient history.
After War: Anger, Panic, and Sometimes Peace Benjamin Tupper June 25, 2013

Afghan society is an ancient patriarchy; legal due process for women is nonexistent.
Babies Behind Bars Karen Day December 2, 2011

Yes, the language of the texts is sometimes overexcited— Tarzan is an ancient hero.
The Original Sexy Beast Anthony Haden-Guest July 1, 2009

Scans of many of these have been amassed by Vieira on his Facebook page, Stone Builders, Mound Builders and the Giants of ancient.
Hunting for a Real-Life Hagrid Nina Strochlic November 12, 2014

Banville is the heir to Proust, via Nabokov, and not because there is a lot of sex in ancient Light.
This Week’s Hot Reads, Oct. 1, 2012 Jimmy So October 1, 2012

Historical Examples

Would that in this respect the ancient darkness might yield to the new light.
Apis Mellifica C. W. Wolf

The ancient priest who drew it must have placed it there for a definite purpose.
Ancient Man Hendrik Willem van Loon

In all the Norse languages, ancient and modern, the -d is preserved.
A Handbook of the English Language Robert Gordon Latham

But Babylon was made into one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Ancient Man Hendrik Willem van Loon

The complaint that “physicians were in vain” is of ancient date.
Roman Sepulchral Inscriptions John Kenrick

dating from very long ago: ancient ruins
very old; aged
of the far past, esp before the collapse of the Western Roman Empire (476 ad) Compare medieval, modern
(law) having existed since before the time of legal memory
(often pl) a member of a civilized nation in the ancient world, esp a Greek, Roman, or Hebrew
(often pl) one of the classical authors of Greek or Roman antiquity
(archaic) an old man
noun (archaic)
a flag or other banner; standard
a standard-bearer; ensign

mid-14c., auncyen, from Old French ancien “old, long-standing, ancient,” from Vulgar Latin *anteanus, literally “from before,” adjectivization of Latin ante “before, in front of, against” (from PIE *anti “against,” locative singular of *ant- “front, forehead;” see ante). The parasitic -t dates from 15c. by influence of words in -ent.

Specifically, in history, “belonging to the period before the fall of the Western Roman Empire” (and contrasted with medieval and modern). In English law, “from before the Norman Conquest.” Ancient of Days is from Dan. vii:9. Related: Anciently.

“standard-bearer,” 1550s, a corruption of ensign. Archaic, but preserved in Shakespeare’s character Aunchient Pistoll in “Henry V.”


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  • Anciently

    in times; of old. Historical Examples anciently, it had been to Europe what cotton was to the Mexico of the Aztecs. The Iron Ration George Abel Schreiner anciently, in the case of a common misfortune, the representative was put to death. Folkways William Graham Sumner West Halton—anciently Alfham—where she obtained succour, is close by, and […]

  • Ancientry

    Archaic. character or style. times. Obsolete. lineage. old people. Historical Examples ancientry preserves its unbroken descent outside the church. The Spell of Scotland Keith Clark This mingling of the beauty of youth and the honour of ancientry runs through all the Irish tales. The High Deeds of Finn and other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland […]

  • Ancile

    a shield given by Mars to Numa Pompilius as the palladium of Rome. any of 11 counterfeits of this shield, carried with it on ceremonial occasions. Historical Examples The first ancile was supposed to have fallen from heaven in answer to the prayer of Numa Pompilius. 1000 Mythological Characters Briefly Described Edward S. Ellis Shortly […]

  • Ancilla

    an accessory; auxiliary or adjunct. Archaic. a maidservant. Historical Examples In this matter, he adds, science must be ancilla theologiæ and return to the correct usage of words. Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 5 (of 6) Havelock Ellis The larger is ancilla pyramidalis, the smaller ancilla mucronata. Beautiful Shells of New Zealand E. […]

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