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an·cient 1 (ānshənt)
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adj.
1. Of, relating to, or belonging to times long past, especially before the fall of the Western Roman Empire (AD 476): ancient cultures. See Synonyms at old.
2. Of great age; very old: "The males live up to six monthspositively ancient, for a bee" (Elizabeth Royte).
3. Archaic Having the qualities associated with age, wisdom, or long use; venerable: "You seem a sober, ancient Gentleman by your habit" (Shakespeare).
n.
1. A very old person.
2. A person who lived in times long past.
3. ancients
a. The peoples of the classical nations of antiquity.
b. The ancient Greek and Roman authors.

[Middle English auncien, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *anteānus : Latin ante, before; see ant- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + -ānus, adj. and n. suff.]

ancient·ly adv.
ancient·ness n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
an·cient 2 (ānshənt)
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n.
1. Archaic An ensign; a flag.
2. Obsolete A flag-bearer or lieutenant.

[Alteration of ENSIGN.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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