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Meaning and Origin

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Origin and Meaning of Ancient

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Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
adjective An"cient
  1. Old; that happened or existed in former times, usually at a great distance of time; belonging to times long past; specifically applied to the times before the fall of the Roman empire; -- opposed to modern; as, ancient authors, literature, history; ancient days. "Witness those ancient empires of the earth." [Milton.]"Gildas Albanius . . . much ancienter than his namesake surnamed the Wise." [Fuller.]
  2. Old; that has been of long duration; of long standing; of great age; as, an ancient forest; an ancient castle. "Our ancientbickerings." [Shak.]"Remove not the ancient landmarks, which thy fathers have set." [Prov. xxii. 28.]"An ancient man, strangely habited, asked for quarters." [Scott.]
  3. Known for a long time, or from early times; -- opposed to recent or new; as, the ancient continent."A friend, perhaps, or an ancient acquaintance." [Barrow.]
  4. Dignified, like an aged man; magisterial; venerable.(Archaic)"He wrought but some few hours of the day, and then would he seem very grave and ancient." [Holland.]
  5. Experienced; versed.(Obs)"Though [he] was the youngest brother, yet he was the most ancient in the business of the realm." [Berners.]
  6. Former; sometime.(Obs)"They mourned their ancient leader lost." [Pope.]
    synonyms: Old; primitive; pristine; antique; antiquated; old-fashioned; obsolete.

Usage: Ancient Antiquated Obsolete Antique Antic Old. Ancient is opposed to modern, and has antiquity; as, an ancient family, ancient landmarks, ancient institutions, systems of thought, etc. Antiquated describes that which has gone out of use or fashion; as, antiquated furniture, antiquated laws, rules, etc. Obsolete is commonly used, instead of antiquated, in reference to language, customs, etc.; as, an obsolete word or phrase, an obsolete expression. Antique is applied, in present usage, either to that which has come down from the ancients; as, an antique cameo, bust, etc. ; or to that which is made to imitate some ancient work of art; as, an antique temple. In the days of Shakespeare, antique was often used for ancient; as, “an antique song,” “an antique Roman;” and hence, from singularity often attached to what is ancient, it was used in the sense of grotesque; as, “an oak whose antique root peeps out; ” and hence came our present word antic, denoting grotesque or ridiculous. We usually apply both ancient and old to things subject to gradual decay. We say, an old man, an ancient record; but never, the old stars, an old river or mountain. In general, however, ancient is opposed to modern, and old to new fresh, or recent. When we speak of a thing that existed formerly, which has ceased to exist, we commonly use ancient; as, ancient republics, ancient heroes; and not old republics, old heroes. But when the thing which began or existed in former times is still in existence, we use either ancient or old; as, ancient statues or paintings, or old statues or paintings; ancient authors, or old authors, meaning books.

Etymology: OE. auncien, F. ancien, LL. antianus, fr. L. ante before. See Ante- pref

noun An"cient
  1. pl.Those who lived in former ages, as opposed to the moderns.
  2. An aged man; a patriarch. Hence: A governor; a ruler; a person of influence."The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof." [Isa. iii. 14.]
  3. A senior; an elder; a predecessor.(Obs)"Junius and Andronicus . . . in Christianity . . . were his ancients." [Hooker.]
  4. pl.[Eng. Law] One of the senior members of the Inns of Court or of Chancery.
noun An"cient
  1. An ensign or flag.(Obs)"More dishonorable ragged than an old-faced ancient." [Shak.]
  2. The bearer of a flag; an ensign.(Obs)"This is Othello's ancient, as I take it." [Shak.]

Etymology: Corrupted from ensign

Other Dictionary Sources
  1. A person who lived in ancient times
  2. A very old person
  3. Very old ("an ancient mariner")
  4. Belonging to times long past especially of the historical period before the fall of the Western Roman Empire ("ancient history", "ancient civilizations such as those of the Etruscans and Sumerians", and "ancient Greece")

From Middle English auncyen, from Old French ancien (“old”), from Latin root *anteanus, from ante (“before”). Compare antique.

  1. A person who is very old.
  2. A person who lived in ancient times.
  3. (heraldry, archaic) A flag, banner, standard or ensign.
  4. (Britain, law) One of the senior members of the Inns of Court or of Chancery.
  5. (obsolete) A senior; an elder; a predecessor.

Notable Persons Named Ancient

Ancient One is a comics character.


Ancient Pistol is an ensign and ensign (rank).


Fun Facts about the name Ancient

  • How unique is the name Ancient? Out of 5,933,561 records in the U.S. Social Security Administration public data, the first name Ancient was not present. It is possible the name you are searching has less than five occurrences per year.
  • Weird things about the name Ancient: Your name in reverse order is Tneicna. A random rearrangement of the letters in your name (anagram) will give Centina. How do you pronounce that?

What Ancients Have Visited This Page?

Past life for Ancient born Apr 29, 1977

I do not know how you feel about it, but you were a female in your last earthly incarnation. You were born somewhere around the territory of Southern Japan approximately on 1050. Your profession was builder of roads, bridges, and docks.

You were a person with huge energy, good in planning and supervising. If you were just a garbage-man, you were chief garbage-man. You are bound to learn to understand other people and to meet all life difficulties with joyful heart. You should help others, bringing them spirit of joy.

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  • Sources:
  • U.S. Census Bureau: Frequently Occurring Surnames from the Census 2000 (public domain).
  • 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary via the Collaborative International Dictionary of English (License)
  • Other Dictionary Sources: WordNet 3.1 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University (License).
  • Wiktionary: Titles and License.
  • Notable persons via Wikipedia: Titles and License. Click each image for the attribution information.