old may apply to either actual or merely relative length of existence.
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 ancient in a Sentence
The people in the village still observe the ancient customs of their ancestors.
a grove of ancient oak trees
The practice was more common in ancient times than it is now.
the gods of the ancient Romans
She studied both ancient and modern history.
Recent Examples on the Web
Rebel groups, often delineated along ethnic lines, have sought autonomy from a state that was stitched together by the British Empire, unifying distinct ancient kingdoms.—WIRED, 29 Sep. 2023 Some are ancient and some are modern imitations, while some feature classical figures or animals.—Patrick Smith, NBC News, 28 Sep. 2023 The process has been shocking to many Armenians, who consider Nagorno-Karabakh their ancient ancestral homeland.—Ivan Nechepurenko, New York Times, 28 Sep. 2023 The researchers discovered the trilobite’s nearly intact gut—the first of its kind in the fossil record—stuffed with the shelly remnants of an ancient seafood feast, revealing that B. incola was not a picky eater.—Jack Tamisiea, Scientific American, 28 Sep. 2023 Steinhauer’s campaign wants to move away from the recent past (the war) and instead bridge this new generation of Vietnamese Americans to an ancient past — to the legends of moons and farmers, the beauty of the land, the traditions of ceremonies.—Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, 28 Sep. 2023 The individual, who remains unidentified, used a dolly and ropes to remove the statue from among hundreds of other ancient art pieces housed at the gallery and into the van before driving away.—Jeremy Childs, Los Angeles Times, 28 Sep. 2023 The Khao Klang Nok monument in Si Thep, an ancient town 150 miles north of Bangkok, has survived more than a thousand years as kingdoms and empires rose and fell around it.—Time, 28 Sep. 2023 From Sunday through Thursday, quotations about democracy — selected by Holzer and dating back to ancient times — will be beamed onto the exteriors of the Hirshhorn and the National Museum of American History from dusk to 11 p.m.—Olivia McCormack, Washington Post, 14 Sep. 2023
Yet not only is there no Vena amoris (as it was dubbed), but there’s also little evidence to support the idea of ancients routinely wearing engagement rings.—Katy Kelleher, refinery29.com, 2 May 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ancient.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Adjective and Noun (1)
Middle English ancien, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *anteanus, from Latin ante before — more at ante-
plural: the civilized peoples of ancient times and especially of Greece and Rome
: existing from a long past date
specifically: having had an uninterrupted existence of 20 to 30 or more years
Things and especially documents that are ancient benefit from a presumption that they are valid even though proof of their validity may be unavailable due to lapse of memory, absence of witnesses, or loss of documents.