Ancient An"cient, a. [OE. auncien, F. ancien, LL. antianus,
fr. L. ante before. See Ante , pref.]
1. Old; that happened or existed in former times, usually at
a great distance of time; belonging to times long past;
specifically applied to the times before the fall of the
Roman empire; - opposed to modern; as, ancient authors,
literature, history; ancient days.
Witness those ancient empires of the earth.
Gildas Albanius . . . much ancienter than his
namesake surnamed the Wise. -Fuller.
2. Old; that has been of long duration; of long standing; of
great age; as, an ancient forest; an ancient castle. ``Our
ancient bickerings.' -Shak.
Remove not the ancient landmarks, which thy fathers
have set. -Prov. xxii.
An ancient man, strangely habited, asked for
3. Known for a long time, or from early times; - opposed to
recent or new; as, the ancient continent.
A friend, perhaps, or an ancient acquaintance.
4. Dignified, like an aged man; magisterial; venerable.
He wrought but some few hours of the day, and then
would he seem very grave and ancient. -Holland.
5. Experienced; versed. [Obs.]
Though [he] was the youngest brother, yet he was the
most ancient in the business of the realm.
6. Former; sometime. [Obs.]
They mourned their ancient leader lost. -Pope.
Ancient demesne (Eng. Law), a tenure by which all manors
belonging to the crown, in the reign of William the
Conqueror, were held. The numbers, names, etc., of these
were all entered in a book called Domesday Book.
Ancient lights (Law), windows and other openings which have
been enjoined without molestation for more than twenty
years. In England, and in some of the United States, they
acquire a prescriptive right.
Syn: Old; primitive; pristine; antique; antiquated;
old fashioned; obsolete.
Usage: Ancient, Antiquated, Obsolete, Antique,
Antic, Old. - Ancient is opposed to modern, and
has antiquity; as, an ancient family, ancient
landmarks, ancient institutions, systems of thought,
etc. Antiquated describes that which has gone out of
use or fashion; as, antiquated furniture, antiquated
laws, rules, etc. Obsolete is commonly used, instead
of antiquated, in reference to language, customs,
etc.; as, an obsolete word or phrase, an obsolete
expression. Antique is applied, in present usage,
either to that which has come down from the ancients;
as, an antique cameo, bust, etc.; or to that which is
made to imitate some ancient work of art; as, an
antique temple. In the days of Shakespeare, antique
was often used for ancient; as, ``an antique song,'
``an antique Roman;' and hence, from singularity
often attached to what is ancient, it was used in the
sense of grotesque; as, ``an oak whose antique root
peeps out; ' and hence came our present word antic,
denoting grotesque or ridiculous. We usually apply
both ancient and old to things subject to gradual
decay. We say, an old man, an ancient record; but
never, the old stars, an old river or mountain. In
general, however, ancient is opposed to modern, and
old to new, fresh, or recent. When we speak of a thing
that existed formerly, which has ceased to exist, we
commonly use ancient; as, ancient republics, ancient
heroes; and not old republics, old heroes. But when
the thing which began or existed in former times is
still in existence, we use either ancient or old; as,
ancient statues or paintings, or old statues or
paintings; ancient authors, or old authors, meaning
Ancient An"cient, n. 1. pl. Those who lived in former ages, as opposed to the moderns. 2. An aged man; a patriarch. Hence: A governor; a ruler; a person of influence. The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof. -Isa. iii. 14. 3. A senior; an elder; a predecessor. [Obs.] Junius and Andronicus . . . in Christianity . . . were his ancients. -Hooker. 4. pl. (Eng. Law) One of the senior members of the Inns of Court or of Chancery. Council of Ancients (French Hist.), one of the two assemblies composing the legislative bodies in 1795. -Brande.