If something is ancient (ain shint), it’s really old. We use this adjective for civilizations, buildings, machines, and sometimes we use it for people who are still living.

  • Ancient civilizations built many interesting things out of stones and rocks.
  • The ancient city of Damascus has been inhabited for thousands and thousands of years. (inhabit = to have people living there)
  • Raheema’s biology teacher is ancient. He’s been teaching since 1972. (The use of the word "ancient" to describe a person is a good example of an exaggeration. See the note below.)
  • My Toyota is a 1993 Previa. It’s ancient, but I still like to drive it.
  • Cell phone technology is changing so quickly now, a phone that’s just a few years old already looks and feels ancient.

ancient ruins

  • Americans are fascinated by the ruins of ancient civilizations because as a country, the United States is not very old.

Note: It’s fairly common for people to exaggerate when they describe something. I don’t know how common this is in other languages, but it happens often in English. We know that a person, a car, or a cell phone is not really ancient, but the choice of this word helps to express the feeling that someone or something is really, really old.

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This page was published on February 3, 2013.