adjective ar·cha·ic \är-ˈkā-ik\

: old and no longer used

: old and no longer useful

: of or relating to ancient times

Full Definition of ARCHAIC

:  having the characteristics of the language of the past and surviving chiefly in specialized uses <an archaic word>
:  of, relating to, or characteristic of an earlier or more primitive time :  antiquated <archaic legal traditions>
capitalized :  of or belonging to the early or formative phases of a culture or a period of artistic development; especially :  of or belonging to the period leading up to the classical period of Greek culture
:  surviving from an earlier period; specifically :  typical of a previously dominant evolutionary stage
capitalized :  of or relating to the period from about 8000 b.c. to 1000 b.c. and the North American cultures of that time
ar·cha·i·cal·ly \-i-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Examples of ARCHAIC

  1. The company needs to update its archaic computer systems.
  2. <a man with some archaic notions about the proper sphere for women>
  3. The author is a bluestocking, with a weakness for etymology and archaic religious texts, her body of work lauded for revealing the sacred in the ordinary. —Kathryn Harrison, New York Times Book Review, 21 Dec. 2008

Origin of ARCHAIC

French or Greek; French archaïque, from Greek archaïkos, from archaios
First Known Use: 1832

Synonym Discussion of ARCHAIC

old, ancient, venerable, antique, antiquated, archaic, obsolete mean having come into existence or use in the more or less distant past. old may apply to either actual or merely relative length of existence <old houses> <an old sweater of mine>. ancient applies to occurrence, existence, or use in or survival from the distant past <ancient accounts of dragons>. venerable stresses the impressiveness and dignity of great age <the family's venerable patriarch>. antique applies to what has come down from a former or ancient time <collected antique Chippendale furniture>. antiquated implies being discredited or outmoded or otherwise inappropriate to the present time <antiquated teaching methods>. archaic implies having the character or characteristics of a much earlier time <the play used archaic language to convey a sense of period>. obsolete may apply to something regarded as no longer acceptable or useful even though it is still in existence <a computer that makes earlier models obsolete>.

Other History Terms

agonistic, carpetbagger, enceinte, fief, historiography, paladin
ARCHAIC Defined for Kids


adjective ar·cha·ic \är-ˈkā-ik\

Definition of ARCHAIC for Kids

:  of, relating to, or existing from an earlier time <archaic words> <archaic customs>
Medical Dictionary


adjective ar·cha·ic \är-ˈkā-ik\

Medical Definition of ARCHAIC

:  typical of a previously dominant evolutionary stage <archaic features of a fossil skull>
:  having the characteristics of primitive humans and their animal forebears especially as represented in the unconscious and appearing in behavior as manifestations of the unconscious


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