1 [eyn-shuhnt]
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.

1300–50; Middle English auncien < Anglo-French; Old French ancien < Vulgar Latin *antiānus, equivalent to Latin ante(ā) before (see ante-) + -ānus -an; late Middle English forms with -t- developed by confusion with the present participle ending -nt (see -ent)

ancientness, noun

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 Old-fashioned may disparage something as being out of date or may approve something old as being superior: an old-fashioned hat; old-fashioned courtesy.

2, 3. new, modern. Unabridged


2 [eyn-shuhnt]
noun Obsolete.
the bearer of a flag.
a flag, banner, or standard; ensign.

1545–55; variant of ensign by confusion with ancient1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
ancient1 (ˈeɪnʃənt)
1.  dating from very long ago: ancient ruins
2.  very old; aged
3.  medieval Compare modern of the far past, esp before the collapse of the Western Roman Empire (476 ad)
4.  law having existed since before the time of legal memory
5.  (often plural) a member of a civilized nation in the ancient world, esp a Greek, Roman, or Hebrew
6.  (often plural) one of the classical authors of Greek or Roman antiquity
7.  archaic an old man
[C14: from Old French ancien, from Vulgar Latin anteanus (unattested), from Latin ante before]

ancient2 (ˈeɪnʃənt)
1.  a flag or other banner; standard
2.  a standard-bearer; ensign
[C16: changed from ensign through the influence of ancient1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

mid-14c., auncyen, from O.Fr. ancien "old, long-standing, ancient," from V.L. *anteanus, adjectivization of L. ante "before, in front of, against" (from PIE *anti "against," locative singular of *ant- "front, forehead;" see ante). With parasitic -t 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 Eng. law, "from before the Norman Conquest." Ancient of Days is from Dan. vii.9.

"standard-bearer," 1550s, a corruption of ensign. Archaic, but preserved in Shakespeare's character Aunchient Pistoll in "Henry V."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Lice from mummies provide clues to ancient migrations.
Play is not generally studied for its significance to ancient peoples.
The structure echoes ancient Athenian architecture without imitating it.
The national park has thousands of ancient archaeological sites.
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