Synonyms & Antonyms of ancient

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 dating or surviving from the distant past
  • Rome's ancient ruins remain carefully preserved even in the midst of the bustle of the modern city

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2 being of advanced years and especially past middle age
  • used to think that age 40 was ancient until I turned 40 myself

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3 relating to or occurring near the beginning of a process, series, or time period
  • the ancient Inca built a vast network of roads

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Synonyms & Antonyms of ancient (Entry 2 of 2)

a person of advanced years
  • ancients in the tribe are accorded great respect and valued for their wisdom

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Frequently Asked Questions About ancient

How does the adjective ancient differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of ancient are antiquated, antique, archaic, obsolete, old, and venerable. While all these words mean "having come into existence or use in the more or less distant past," ancient applies to occurrence, existence, or use in or survival from the distant past.

ancient accounts of dragons

When can antiquated be used instead of ancient?

The meanings of antiquated and ancient largely overlap; however, antiquated implies being discredited or outmoded or otherwise inappropriate to the present time.

antiquated teaching methods

When is it sensible to use antique instead of ancient?

Although the words antique and ancient have much in common, antique applies to what has come down from a former or ancient time.

collected antique Chippendale furniture

When could archaic be used to replace ancient?

The words archaic and ancient are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, archaic implies having the character or characteristics of a much earlier time.

the play used archaic language to convey a sense of period

When is obsolete a more appropriate choice than ancient?

While the synonyms obsolete and ancient are close in meaning, 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

When would old be a good substitute for ancient?

The words old and ancient can be used in similar contexts, but old may apply to either actual or merely relative length of existence.

old houses

an old sweater of mine

When might venerable be a better fit than ancient?

The synonyms venerable and ancient are sometimes interchangeable, but venerable stresses the impressiveness and dignity of great age.

the family's venerable patriarch

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Time Traveler for ancient

Time Traveler

The first known use of ancient was in the 14th century

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ancient history

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Cite this Entry

“Ancient.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ancient

Nglish: Translation of ancient for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ancient for Arabic Speakers


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