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(1)   Little evolved from or characteristic of an earlier ancestral type
"Archaic forms of life"
"Primitive mammals"
"The okapi is a short-necked primitive cousin of the giraffe"
(2)   So extremely old as seeming to belong to an earlier period
"A ramshackle antediluvian tenement"
"Antediluvian ideas"
"Archaic laws"


From from , from from .


, usually capitalized: Archaic
  1. A general term for the prehistoric period intermediate between the earliest period ("Paleo-Indian", "Paleo-American", "American-paleolithic", etc.) of human presence in the Western Hemisphere, and the most recent prehistoric period ("Woodland", etc.).
    1958 Wiley, Gordon R., and Philip Phillips, Method and Theory in American Archaeology, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, p107:
    • [...] Archaic Stage [...] the stage of migratory hunting and gathering cultures continuing into environmental conditions approximately those of the present.


  1. Of or characterized by antiquity; old-fashioned, quaint, antiquated, as an archaic word or phrase.
    1848 James Russel Lowell, The Biglow Papers:
    • A person familiar with the dialect of certain portions of Massachusetts will not fail to recognize, in ordinary discourse, many words now noted in English vocabularies as archaic, the greater part of which were in common use about the time of the King James translation of the Bible. Shakespeare stands less in need of a glossary to most New Englanders than to many a native of the Old Country.
    1887 Barcley V. Head, Historia Numorum A Manual Of Greek Numismatics:
    • There is in the best archaic coin work [of the Greeks] ... a strength and a delicacy which are often wanting in the fully developed art of a later age.
  2. No longer in ordinary use, though still used occasionally to give a sense of antiquity.
    1898 William Cowper Brann, The Complete Works of Brann the Iconoclast:
    • Brann's compass of words, idioms and phrases harks back to the archaic and reaches forward to the futuristic. Volume 1

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