an·​cil·​lary | \ ˈan(t)-sə-ˌler-ē, -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

To add insult to financial injury, their insurance company limits their choices in drugs, practitioners and other ancillary services. WSJ, "Cadillac Tax Does More Harm Than Good," 24 July 2018 Michelle AllenTravel MagicYou could try to figure out the best ways to beat the crowds, skip lines, book the right restaurants, and tackle all the ancillary Disney logistics. Paul Brady, Condé Nast Traveler, "2018 Top Travel Specialists We Trust," 19 Oct. 2018 Thus far, those things have included ancillary businesses and revenue streams. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "MoviePass subscribers aren’t going to the movies, and that’s what MoviePass wants," 3 Oct. 2018 There are other people doing more ancillary jobs on it and then there are people that are doing other projects on it. Eric Johnson, Recode, "How a Twitter account convinced 4,000 companies to stop advertising on Breitbart," 3 Sep. 2018 And Musk has ancillary enterprises that lay the groundwork. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "Kimbal Musk Is Reinventing Food One Shipping Container at a Time," 24 Oct. 2018 Julie makes ends meet by renting her rooms on Airbnb, a device for McCauley to rotate variously awful and appealing ancillary characters. Sarah Dunn, New York Times, "Two Novels on the Complexities of Revisiting Past Loves," 1 June 2018 Two were ancillary characters: a businessman who apparently sold bank account numbers to Russian trolls; and a lawyer who had worked with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime partner Rick Gates. Philip Bump, Washington Post, "Mueller is about to take a big step closer to Trump," 23 Feb. 2018 Not here for the chit-chat Quenton Nelson has all the ancillary stuff out of the way. Scott Horner, Indianapolis Star, "Colts lineman all business," 11 May 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

11 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

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

: providing something additional to a main part or function


an·​cil·​lary | \ ˈan(t)-sə-ˌler-ē, esp 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 \

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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involving abstract or general statements

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