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

Other Words from archaic

archaically \ är-​ˈkā-​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce archaic (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 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.
Recent Examples on the Web Freyne argued that the monarchy was an archaic institution with no future. Claire Parker, Washington Post, 9 Sep. 2022 Freyne argued that the monarchy was an archaic institution with no future. Claire Parker, Anchorage Daily News, 9 Sep. 2022 The simile, which locates something barbaric in the trappings of classical culture, places nervous, reasonable Trelawny in a world of archaic ritual and potentially cathartic extremity. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 29 Aug. 2022 Before his death in 2018, the Arizona Republican pushed to repeal an archaic FAA rule that limited Gateway Airport's ability to build the tower. Michael Salerno, The Arizona Republic, 24 Aug. 2022 Yet one lap past the actual wares of the fair, where most brands marketed inviting, informal clothes, and these dutiful dandies appear as archaic as a crumbling fresco. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, 20 June 2022 One common, if admittedly archaic, point of Hindu tradition is that women who are menstruating are encouraged not to participate in temple activities, like worshiping or cooking, or being on temple grounds. Palak Jayswal, The Salt Lake Tribune, 25 Mar. 2022 The building, at Kaufman Astoria Studios, has arches and an archaic look that feels plucked out of the Fifties thriller Sunset Boulevard. Jayson Buford, Rolling Stone, 3 Aug. 2022 Transplant doctors have complained for years about archaic aspects of the technology for sharing data and getting organs to the right place as quickly as possible. Joseph Menn, Lenny Bernstein, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of archaic was in 1810

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Last Updated

29 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Archaic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for archaic


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

More from Merriam-Webster on archaic

Nglish: Translation of archaic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of archaic for Arabic Speakers


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