an·​cil·​lary | \ ˈan(t)-sə-ˌler-ē How to pronounce ancillary (audio) , -ˌle-rē, especially British an-ˈsi-lə-rē\

Definition of ancillary

1 : subordinate, subsidiary the main factory and its ancillary plants
2 : auxiliary, supplementary the need for ancillary evidence ancillary expenses ancillary equipment

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Other Words from ancillary

ancillary noun

Did You Know?

Ancillary derives from the English word ancilla, a somewhat rare word that means "an aid to achieving or mastering something difficult." That word derives from Latin, where it meant "female servant." While English "ancilla" is unlikely to be encountered except in very specialized contexts (such as philosophy or quantum computing), "ancillary" picks up on the notion of providing aid or support in a way that supplements something else. In particular, the word often describes something that is in a position of secondary importance, such as the "ancillary products in a company’s line."

Examples of ancillary in a Sentence

The lockout rocked the NHL, but among the ancillary benefits has been the emergence of young players who apprenticed for an additional season in the minors … — Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated, 21 Nov. 2005 I am in love with a man who is in love with boats. As far as ancillary loves are concerned, I understand things could be worse. Sadly, I do not love boats. — Ann Patchett, Gourmet, May 2003 Traditionally museums have been built to house collections, and for ancillary functions such as storage, conservation, administration, and education. — Jayne Merkel, Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2002 Paleolithic hunters and gatherers obtained an abundance of complete protein, mostly from wild game; their vegetable foods were an ancillary protein source. This pattern prevailed until agriculture transformed it, shifting the human diet away from meat and toward plant food. — S. Boyd Eaton et al., The Paleolithic Prescription, 1988 The company hopes to boost its sales by releasing ancillary products.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Food, a checked bag, and your seat assignment have all become ancillary revenue to help airlines maximize profit. Aditi Shrikant, Vox, "Some airlines may be using algorithms to split up families during flights," 27 Nov. 2018 Rewards programs, fees and other ancillary revenue earned airlines an estimated $82.2 billion world-wide last year, according to an IdeaWorks analysis, nearly 11% of the industry’s revenue. Alison Sider, WSJ, "Air Travelers, Get Ready to Pony Up for Higher Fees," 31 Aug. 2018 The idea behind both passes, of course, is to lock people into one set of resorts for their ski trips, thus ensuring either company of getting all of the ancillary revenue that comes with: lodging, ski rentals, lessons and dining. Christopher Steiner, USA TODAY, "Alterra’s Ikon Pass gives skiers a real rival to Vail’s Epic Pass," 26 Jan. 2018 For Jared Paul Stern, who at the time was second banana at the Post’s influential Page Six column, the ancillary business was fashion design. Ben Widdicombe, Town & Country, "Why It Makes Perfect Sense That Billionaire Ron Burkle Would Buy The Enquirer," 11 Apr. 2019 Since 2011, his group, which consists of 600 investors, has made $155 million worth of investments in the cannabis industry, from growers and dispensaries to companies that make ancillary products, like vaping devices. Paul Sullivan, New York Times, "As States Legalize Marijuana, Investors See an Opportunity," 26 Jan. 2018 Yet, Spotify seems to continue chasing adjacent content and marketing initiatives beyond streaming, in search of ancillary revenue sources that rights holders do not completely control. Cherie Hu, Billboard, "Why Music Streaming's Greatest Hopes Are Spotify's Toughest Challenges," 8 Mar. 2018 For so long, the film industry has only been able to conceive of black, brown, and Asian woman as ancillary parts to white narratives. Kyndall Cunningham, Glamour, "The Oscar Race Is All About Gaga vs. Glenn—But What About Women of Color?," 22 Jan. 2019 Couple this with other ancillary financial benefits of having Amazon in New York and this is clearly a net benefit to the city. WSJ, "Good for Amazon, Good for Local Taxpayers?," 18 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ancillary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ancillary

1667, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ancillary

see ancilla

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Statistics for ancillary

Last Updated

29 May 2019

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Time Traveler for ancillary

The first known use of ancillary was in 1667

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More Definitions for ancillary



English Language Learners Definition of ancillary

formal : providing something additional to a main part or function


an·​cil·​lary | \ ˈan(t)-sə-ˌler-ē, especially British an-ˈsil-ə-rē\

Medical Definition of ancillary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: being auxiliary or supplementary use of a drug as ancillary to surgical treatment ancillary staff ancillary diagnostic services


plural ancillaries

Medical Definition of ancillary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 British : one who assists or is supplementary to another person
2 : a supplemental diagnostic or therapeutic medical service (as magnetic resonance imaging or radiotherapy)


an·​cil·​lary | \ ˈan-sə-ˌler-ē, an-ˈsi-lə-rē How to pronounce ancillary (audio) \

Legal Definition of ancillary

1 : having a subordinate, subsidiary, or secondary nature ancillary functions an ancillary agreement
2 : serving as a supplement or addition ancillary documents
3 : directly related ancillary claims

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More from Merriam-Webster on ancillary

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ancillary

Nglish: Translation of ancillary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ancillary for Arabic Speakers

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