- 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.
- dating from very long agoancient 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 plural) a member of a civilized nation in the ancient world, esp a Greek, Roman, or Hebrew
- (often plural) one of the classical authors of Greek or Roman antiquity
- archaic an old man
- 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.”