Definition of archaic in English:



  • 1Very old or old-fashioned.

    ‘prisons are run on archaic methods’
    • ‘Most of the diseases she did not know, and she began to lose hope since most of the writing was ancient and archaic.’
    • ‘A group called the Knights Templars had secretly gathered information, ancient lore and archaic texts.’
    • ‘In short, the modernization of economic structures leads to a rise, rather than a decline, in archaic attitudes of mind.’
    • ‘It is an archaic remainder of a bygone age which has no place in modern New Zealand.’
    • ‘Why can we not shun our archaic practices and methods and step into the new world.’
    • ‘The company also plans to pay artists a higher royalty for songs downloaded online, while scrapping archaic methods for calculating Internet sales.’
    • ‘In any event, the development of pharmacological drugs and community-based programs causes laws on commitment to a hospital to be regarded as archaic vestiges of a bygone era.’
    • ‘‘The newspaper industry prices itself in a way that is at best archaic and at worst antediluvian,’ he says.’
    • ‘Concerts were staged in Hebrew and archaic Spanish, and ancient folklore dances were performed on Sunday.’
    • ‘You might think this archaic method of blade carry would be confined to dusty museum shelves but surprisingly, a large number of factory and custom knife makers are offering neck knives today.’
    • ‘The charm of these films relies not solely on the thrill of magic, but also on the appeal of the archaic and anachronistic.’
    • ‘The use of this kind of ‘controlled violence’ may not reflect ‘emotional control’ but archaic attitudes towards physical violence.’
    • ‘Given these changes, it would seem logical that the survey would become an obsolete, archaic technology in a postmodern world.’
    • ‘Within a month of buying one, I disconnected my archaic home phone and took the cell everywhere.’
    • ‘By the end of the Eocene, modern orders and families replaced the archaic fauna of mostly extinct groups with no living descendants.’
    • ‘The opposite of modern is not really conservative, but archaic or ancient, or orthodox.’
    • ‘Director of the Scottish Tourist Forum, Ivan Broussine, warned that archaic attitudes were threatening the health of the tourist industry.’
    • ‘That is why we profess a spiritual kinship with primitive and archaic art.’
    • ‘It is presumably their archaic method of manufacture which give them a cachet and makes them a suitable present for foreign friends.’
    • ‘I believe that the archaic attitudes that were displayed in the past are being whittled away very consistently, and that we are now moving quite strongly towards a very commercially focused industry.’
    obsolete, obsolescent, out of date, anachronistic, old-fashioned, outmoded, behind the times, bygone, antiquated, antique, superannuated, antediluvian, past its prime, having seen better days, olde worlde, old-fangled
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    1. 1.1 (of a word or a style of language) no longer in everyday use but sometimes used to impart an old-fashioned flavour.
      ‘a term with a rather archaic ring to it’
      • ‘The first two of these are from poems in the style of traditional song lyrics, and thus represent an archaic state of the language preserved in a local dialect.’
      • ‘It seeks to present ideas clearly, concisely, and directly, and to avoid legalese, archaic terms, and repetition.’
      • ‘In certain cases, though, an archaic word may be retained in order to maintain the poetic rhyme and not lose the overall effect and value of the hymn.’
      • ‘It is written in an archaic style and is full of references to antiquated Greek philosophy which students today can hardly comprehend.’
      • ‘Elevation is lent to his language by archaic and poetic words and an admixture of neologisms, while his extensive use of metaphor more closely resembles poetic than prose usage.’
      • ‘The title, by the way, is not a misprint: ‘photogram’ is simply an archaic word for a photograph.’
      • ‘It seeks to present ideas clearly and directly, and to avoid archaic terms, repetition, and verbosity.’
      • ‘Everyone notices all the specialized, archaic and dialect words in these books - catharpings, syllabub, marthambles and the like.’
      • ‘He may not use the archaic term, but we will get the idea anyway.’
      • ‘‘So much was made in the press when the book was released, of the way it was written, of the notion that I mixed contemporary with archaic styles,’ he says.’
      • ‘It's an archaic term that first appeared in 1812-and it's erroneously used to describe any lucky bounce, good or bad.’
      • ‘The book, narrated in the first person (and in an archaic style, although whether authentically or in imitation I don't recall), has a false ending which appears to bring the story to a close.’
      • ‘It is full of articles on the origins of words and phrases (from up to the moment new phrases to archaic words that are no longer used).’
      • ‘Because they are short or perceived as popular, certain archaic words survive in newspaper usage: agog, foe, hustings, scribe, slay.’
      • ‘They may have translated the archaic terms into scientific-sounding language, but it's the same old vitalism, dressed up as quantum physics.’
      • ‘The wording was practically archaic and the message it conveyed was grimmer than it needed to be, in her opinion.’
      • ‘He retained archaic word choices and used footnotes to explain the meanings of those words.’
      • ‘This is in reference to Gogan's tendency to use traditional verse forms and a plethora of archaic words in his poetry.’
      • ‘He cringed at his own use of such an archaic word.’
      • ‘The poems come to us across a great chronological and cultural divide, and the reader is reminded of this fact by the occasional archaic word and by the unusual compounding, both of which impart a faintly disorienting tone.’
    2. 1.2 Of an early period of art or culture, especially the 7th–6th centuries BC in Greece.
      ‘the archaic temple at Corinth’
      • ‘The elegantly run-down synagogue evoked an archaic or abandoned temple from a nearly forgotten age.’
      • ‘This city was settled by Phoenicians in the archaic period and it challenged the rising Roman Republic in three wars culminating in its own destruction in the second century B.C.E.’
      • ‘Pursuing a theme of archaic poetry, Xenophanes is the first to reflect systematically on the distinction between human opinion or guesswork and certain knowledge.’
      • ‘The discovery of ‘a very archaic female [figurine] from rear of east shops’ is recorded for May 14.’
      • ‘By discovering the archaic roots of Indian culture, he came to understand the deep structures of his own national folklore.’
      • ‘Schaps, however, underestimates the market orientation of Greek agriculture in the later archaic period.’
      • ‘Vamedoe, in analysing ‘Boy Leading a Horse’, says the work had a kind of rigidity that made one think of the early archaic Greek sculptures of youth or adolescence.’
      • ‘Many larger vessels were made in this later period in imitation of archaic shapes, originally associated with bronze.’
      • ‘As an American student in Italy and Greece he fell sway to early Greek art, admiring the simple graphic forms of early black-figure vase painting and archaic Greek sculpture.’
      • ‘Stephen Harrison has argued that although in archaic Greece the form was linked to religious and social contexts where it was sung, by the Roman period it came to be associated with a purely literary form.’
      • ‘Most dramatic of all are the tall, enigmatically smiling kouros, which are archaic statues of godlike young men.’
      • ‘The vigour and simplicity of the archaic Greek temple is partly a Romantic construct, as archaeologists now tell us that they were painted all sorts of garish colours.’
      • ‘The Summer Palace at Beijing with its archaic temples, pavilions, huge mansions, lakes etc. make a superb picnic spot.’
      • ‘Concerning the archaic period, Reed admits that he is engaging in ‘cautious guesswork’.’
      • ‘Sironi's peer in sculpture was Arturo Martini, who also used archaic forms to enliven the classical tradition in search of a non-rhetorical Fascist style.’
      • ‘And then we got Greek naturalism coming along within 50 years, I mean, it was from the archaic period to the high classical period.’
      • ‘Arnold captured archaic folk songs of anonymous origin passed on orally through generations.’
      • ‘It looks back ultimately to the Works and Days of the archaic Greek poet Hesiod.’
      • ‘He is often coupled with the archaic poet Hesiod who wrote the Theogony and Works and Days.’
      • ‘The imagery has an affinity with Cycladic sculpture, with the forms of the archaic kouros, with the masks of the Luba from Zaire, and many other forms of expression evolved by rustics as opposed to urbanites.’


Mid 19th century: from French archaïque, from Greek arkhaikos, from arkhaios, from arkhē ‘beginning’.