ar·​cha·​ic | \ är-ˈkā-ik How to pronounce archaic (audio) \

Definition of archaic

1 : having the characteristics of the language of the past and surviving chiefly in specialized uses an archaic word

Note: In this dictionary the label archaic is affixed to words and senses relatively common in earlier times but infrequently used in present-day English.

2 : of, relating to, or characteristic of an earlier or more primitive time : antiquated archaic legal traditions
3 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
4 : surviving from an earlier period specifically : typical of a previously dominant evolutionary stage
5 capitalized : of or relating to the period from about 8000 b.c. to 1000 b.c. and the North American cultures of that time

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Other Words from archaic

archaically \ är-​ˈkā-​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce archaically (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of archaic in a Sentence

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 Europe's economic growth and productivity, Judt reminds us, for all the horror stories about archaic work regulations and inflexible labor markets, has remained impressive up to the current moment. — John T. McGreevy, Commonweal, 24 Mar. 2006 The locals spoke a Slavish dialect so thick and archaic that it sounded as if they were chewing stale bread. — Bruce Sterling, Fantasy & Science Fiction, September 2005 Between the upper limit of radiocarbon dating (about 50 ka) and the lower limit of radiogenic potassium dating (about 0.5 Ma) there used to exist a chronological lacuna that I call the Gap. This temporal range encompasses the transition of archaic humans into fully modern forms, so the lack of a reliable means of dating fossils from the Gap was disconcerting. — Ervan G. Garrison, Physics Today, October 2001 The company needs to update its archaic computer systems.
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Recent Examples on the Web The biggest problem may be an archaic local law banning shopping on Sundays. The Economist, "Who wants to go to a giant shopping mall?," 28 Nov. 2019 The Modi government, which kicked off its second term this year, has proposed to reform India’s archaic labour laws and improve business conditions for companies. Kuwar Singh, Quartz India, "India’s gains in competitiveness during Modi’s first term have now been nearly erased," 9 Oct. 2019 Easier hiring-and-firing norms – and not mere consolidation of archaic labor laws – will boost employment in more productive large firms that can pay better. Washington Post, "7-Cent Biscuits Are Too Pricey for Indian Workers," 26 Aug. 2019 That, of course, was because of the Yankees’ archaic rules that don’t allow beards or hair that goes over the collar. Andy Nesbitt, For The Win, "Gerrit Cole should have forced the Yankees to get rid of their silly rules," 19 Dec. 2019 The panel, among other things, revised the exchange’s archaic capital rules. New York Times, "Felix G. Rohatyn, Financier Who Piloted New York’s Rescue, Dies at 91," 14 Dec. 2019 To assuage such worries, Mr Shah exempted much of the region from the new rules, even granting one state, Manipur, an archaic status, dating from the time of the Raj, that obliges visitors from other parts of India to obtain permits to visit. The Economist, "A recipe for unrest India’s new citizenship law outrages Muslims," 12 Dec. 2019 For many people around the world, the fact that December 2 is celebrated as the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery may seem like an archaic throwback. Aryn Baker, Time, "The Best Way to End Modern Slavery? Enable Legal Migration," 2 Dec. 2019 This latest challenge involves the state’s archaic liquor license limits again., "Durand says he’s confident the question can withstand the legal challenge. Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has already cleared the question, saying its various aspects meet the relatedness test. (Healey’s staff declined to comment.)," 26 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'archaic.' 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 archaic

1810, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for archaic

French or Greek; French archaïque, from Greek archaïkos, from archaios

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Time Traveler for archaic

Time Traveler

The first known use of archaic was in 1810

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Statistics for archaic

Last Updated

8 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Archaic.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 17 January 2020.

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More Definitions for archaic


How to pronounce archaic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of archaic

: old and no longer used
: old and no longer useful
: of or relating to ancient times


ar·​cha·​ic | \ är-ˈkā-ik How to pronounce archaic (audio) \

Kids Definition of archaic

: of, relating to, or existing from an earlier time archaic words archaic customs


ar·​cha·​ic | \ är-ˈkā-ik How to pronounce archaic (audio) \

Medical Definition of archaic

1 : typical of a previously dominant evolutionary stage archaic features of a fossil skull
2 : 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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More from Merriam-Webster on archaic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for archaic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with archaic

Spanish Central: Translation of archaic

Nglish: Translation of archaic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of archaic for Arabic Speakers

Comments on archaic

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a plan in which a last survivor takes all

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