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 \ -​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

Half the bleak, spiteful, xenophobic, self-defeating, archaic, pandering picture. John Archibald |,, "What won’t Alabama politicians do? This," 7 June 2019 Thankfully, the new Act rectified the archaic system, and Meghan and Harry's baby will also benefit from the change in rules. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Where Will Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Baby Fit in the Line of Succession?," 6 Apr. 2019 Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. Charles Manning, Cosmopolitan, "Gay Dolce & Gabbana Designers Don't Think Gay People Should Adopt or Get Married," 16 Mar. 2015 Since the Yankees are the only team in baseball with an archaic rule about facial hair and players having long hair, young outfielder Clint Frazier had to shed his long, luscious red locks last season. Jimmy Traina,, "Yankees Outfielder Clint Frazier Makes Sure His Hair Is A Non-Issue," 16 Feb. 2018 The performances, which included live snakes, shattered mirrors, and cow skulls as props, suggested archaic rituals, violence-tinged but executed with surrealist wit. Holland Cotter, New York Times, "Shock of the Nude," 1 Feb. 2018 There are people that are still archaic in their thinking. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "Justina Machado Is One of the Most Dynamic Actresses on TV," 8 Feb. 2019 More broadly, Russia must demilitarize its consciousness, recognizing that the logic of war is defective and archaic and that modern problems are more often solved through battles of ideas. Konstantin Dobrynin, WSJ, "Russia’s Future Is Rapped in an Enigma," 14 Jan. 2019 The ancestor, based out of Asia, would have been a hybrid of Neanderthals and Denisovans, a subspecies of archaic humans. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "AI Predicts Humans Have an Ancestor We Don't Even Know About Yet," 17 Jan. 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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Statistics for archaic

Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for archaic

The first known use of archaic was in 1810

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More Definitions for archaic



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with archaic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for archaic

Spanish Central: Translation of archaic

Nglish: Translation of archaic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of archaic for Arabic Speakers

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