Meaning of “ancient” in the English Dictionary

british dictionary

"ancient" in British English

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uk /ˈeɪn.ʃənt/ us /ˈeɪn.ʃənt/

B1 of or from a long time ago, having lasted for a very long time:

the ancient kingdoms of Mexico
People have lived in this valley since ancient times.
History, ancient and modern, has taught these people an intense distrust of their neighbours.

informal very old:

He's got an ancient laptop.

B1 used to refer to the period in European history from the earliest known societies to the end of the Roman Empire:

the ancient Egyptians/Greeks/Romans
The ancient Britons inhabited these parts of England before the Roman invasion.

More examples

  • The ancient people of this area worshipped a huge bronze idol in the shape of an elephant.
  • In ancient Rome, captured generals were paraded through the streets in chairs.
  • As a consequence of expansionism by some European countries, many ancient cultures have suffered.
  • Mr Graham was amazed to find 46 ancient gold coins inside the pot.
  • The ancient skull of Peking Man has been pieced together from fragments.

(Definition of “ancient” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"ancient" in American English

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us /ˈeɪn·ʃənt/

of or from a very long time ago:

Archaeologists study the remains of ancient civilizations.

infml Something that is ancient is very old:

This computer is ancient – I’ve got to get a new one.

(Definition of “ancient” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)