Word Confusion: Ancient vs Antiquate vs Antique vs Antiquity

Posted March 30, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Writing

The commonality for this quartet of homonyms is that they’re all old. The differences are less distinct between ancient and antiquity with the primary difference being the latter doesn’t apply to people. It is also “older” than ancient, as a matter of degree….

Antiquate is strictly a verb which causes things to become obsolete while antique is things which are old but valued. Yeah, we’re a throwaway society, so in general, those antiquated products are usually not valued.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Ancient Antiquate Antique Antiquity
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: ancient, antiquate, antique, and antiquity

A gray-haired woman in colorful native dress, sitting in a doorway, watching two black hens scratching for food

“Old Woman of Bhaktapur – Kathmandu” by A Vahanvaty from Dubai, UAE (Bhaktapur | Kathmandu) under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

A beautiful ancient woman.

Cosmo Dual Fuel Range, Natural Gas, 36" contemporary-gas-ranges-and-electric-ranges

Today’s electronic stoves have antiquated this one.

Seven holes are visible in the stone tile top of this brick-based stove.

“Ancient Brick Stove” by Thomas Quine is under the CC BY 2.0 license, via via Wikimedia Commons

Antique furniture from the 19th century on display at the Salvador Ferrando Museum in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, Mexico

“Salvador Ferrando Museum” is Alejandro Linares Garcia’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Some beautiful antiques in this museum.

Mycenaean stirrup vase, 14th-13th centuries BC, imported to Ugarit. Found in the acropolis of Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit), tomb 37.

“Mycenaean Stirrup Vase” at the Louvre was photographed by Jastrow and is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This vase definitely qualifies as an “antiquity”, as it is dated back to the 14th–13th centuries BC.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective 1; Noun 1, 2
Plural for noun: ancients
Verb, transitive

Third person present verb: antiquates
Past tense or past participle: antiquated
Gerund or present participle: antiquating

Adjective; Noun; Verb, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: antiques
Past tense or past participle: antiqued
Gerund or present participle: antiquing

Plural for noun: antiquities
Belonging to the very distant past and no longer in existence

  • Having been in existence for a very long time
  • [Chiefly humorous] Showing or feeling signs of age or wear
  • Dating from a remote period
  • Of great age

Very old

  • Aged

Being old in wisdom and experience

  • Venerable

[Archaic; humorous] An old person 1

[the ancients] The civilized peoples, nations, or cultures of antiquity, as the Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, and Egyptians

[the ancients] The writers, artists, and philosophers of ancient times, especially those of Greece and Rome

[Archaic] A standard, flag, or ensign 2
[Obsolete] The bearer of a flag

To make obsolete, old-fashioned, or out of date by replacing with something newer or better

To design or create in an antique style

  • Cause to appear antique
[Of a collectible object] Having a high value because of considerable age

  • [Of a method of finishing a wooden surface] Intended to resemble the appearance of antique furniture

Belonging to ancient times

  • Old-fashioned or outdated
  • Often humorous showing signs of great age or wear
  • In the tradition, fashion, or style of an earlier period
  • Antiquated
  • Ancient

Noting or pertaining to automobiles approximately 25 years old or more

Of or belonging to the ancient Greeks and Romans

[Of paper] Neither calendered nor coated and having a rough surface

A collectible object such as a piece of furniture or work of art that has a high value because of its considerable age

  • [Per U.S. customs laws] Any work of art, piece of furniture, decorative object, or the like, created or produced 100 years before date of purchase

The antique style, usually Greek or Roman, especially in art

[Printing] A style of type

Verb, intransitive:
To shop for or collect antiques

  • [Go antiquing] Shop in stores where antiques are sold

Verb, transitive:
[Usually as adjective antiqued) Make something resemble an antique by artificial means

To make or finish something, especially furniture in imitation of antiques

To emboss an image, design, letters, or the like on paper or fabric

The ancient past, especially the period before the Middle Ages

  • [Usually antiquities] An object, building, or work of art from the ancient past

Great age

The ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean gave us so much in the sciences, maths, history, writings, law, and more.

The only surviving wonder of the ancient world is the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The most ancient bristlecone pine is named Methuselah and is estimated to be 4,841 years old.

Oh, man, that’s ancient history, dude.

The appearances of the Loch Ness monster are an ancient folk tale.

They may be an ancient pair of jeans, but they’re my lucky jeans!

Jeez, you make me feel ancient.

He was a solitary ancient in a tweed jacket.
The ancients of Rome and Greece included Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Homer, Sappho, Virgil, Euripides, and more.

A thorough knowledge of the ancients is a prerequisite of criticism.

Ensign” is a corruption of ancient and meant both a banner and the bearer of the banner.

This latest device will antiquate the ice-cube tray.

Ford’s conception of the assembly line antiquated previous manufacturing processes.

Henry enjoys antiquating furniture.

This new furnace antiquates the old heating system.

We received an antique clock as a wedding gift.

George gave the bookshelves an antique finish that is so warm and cozy.

They were statues of antique gods.

Can you believe trade unions are defending antique work practices?

She was an antique divorcée in reduced circumstances.

Pauline loves collecting antiques.

My friend has been an antique dealer for years.

Helena prefers antiques to modern furniture.

Some antique fonts include Coffee Tin, Old Newspaper Types, and Treasure Map Dead Hand.

Verb, intransitive:
She spent her vacation antiquing in Boston.

We would often go antiquing in search of furnishings.

Verb, transitive:
She antiqued her modern steel door to help it blend in with the architecture.

Antiquing a piece of furniture adds such character.

The great civilizations of antiquity include Greece, Rome, China, Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus River Valley, Peru, and Meso-America.

The Elgin Marbles are an extensive collection of Greek antiquities.

Notre Dame Cathedral is a church of great antiquity.

Adverb: anciently
Noun: ancientness
Adjective: antiquated, unantiquated
Noun: antiquatedness, antiquation
Adjective: pseudoantique, quasi-antique, subantique
Adverb: antiquely
Noun: antiqueness, pseudoantique
Noun: preantiquity, preantiquities, subantiquity, subantiquities
History of the Word:
1 Late Middle English from the Old French ancien, based on the Latin ante meaning before.

2 Mid-16th century as an alteration of ensign by association with ancien, an early form of ancient 1.

1400-50; late Middle English antiquat meaning old from the Medieval Latin antimac quātus meaning old, ancient, the past participle of antiquāre meaning to put in an earlier state; it’s a verbal derivative of the Latin antimac quus. It was strictly an adjective in the late 15th century from the Latin antiquus, anticus meaning former, ancient, which is from ante meaning before. Middle English from the Old French antiquite, from the Latin antiquitas, whcih is from antiquus meaning old, former.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

The Middle East in Antiquity” from Harvard University and “Rockin’ in the Rockies” by dassel, which is in the public domain, via Pixabay.