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 Overhead, administration, ancillary staff, malpractice insurance, and pharmaceuticals account for the majority of costs. David Kulber, Quartz, "Patients can’t afford for doctors to misunderstand the healthcare business," 22 Jan. 2020 Surprisingly, the strongest aspects here are almost ancillary to the theme. Charlie Theel, Ars Technica, "Review: Cowboy Bebop becomes a boardgame," 11 Jan. 2020 With Jackson and Humphries no longer in town, along with a couple of other ancillary pieces not returning to Tampa Bay’s 2019 roster, the Buccaneers have nearly 15 targets per game available from last year, or 38% of their total target share. Tj Hernandez, Sports Illustrated, "O.J. Howard Ready to Make the Leap in Fantasy Leagues," 10 June 2019 That also has the ancillary benefit of allowing you to submit less personal data to tech companies in setting up security protections. Wired, "Never Trust a Platform to Put Privacy Ahead of Profit," 9 Oct. 2019 While the visit is clearly part of his play for Minnesota, any Twin Cities media coverage will have an ancillary benefit: western Wisconsin. Ryan Faircloth, Twin Cities, "Trump making major push to turn Minnesota red in 2020. State Dems say they ‘can’t keep up.’," 9 Oct. 2019 Without getting nerdy about it, Batwoman is not Batgirl, that feisty, redheaded ancillary to the Batmans and Robins of yore. Hank Stuever, Houston Chronicle, "CW does wrong by Batwoman and Nancy Drew," 4 Oct. 2019 Without getting nerdy about it, Batwoman is not Batgirl, that feisty, redheaded ancillary to the Batmans and Robins of yore. Hank Stuever, Washington Post, "After their CW treatments, Batwoman and Nancy Drew have a hard time being themselves," 3 Oct. 2019 Those initiatives, which highlighted technologies that are ancillary to Intel’s core microprocessors, have been less visible since Fund’s exit. Mike Rogoway, oregonlive, "Intel poaches Cisco’s CMO," 30 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for ancillary

Time Traveler

The first known use of ancillary was in 1667

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Last Updated

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ancillary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for ancillary


How to pronounce ancillary (audio)

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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