an·cient1 / ˈānchənt/ • adj. belonging to the very distant past and no longer in existence: the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean. ∎ having been in existence for a very long time: ancient forests. ∎ chiefly humorous showing or feeling signs of age or wear: an ancient pair of jeans. • n. archaic or humorous an old person: a solitary ancient in a tweed jacket. PHRASES: the ancients the people of ancient times, esp. the Greeks and Romans. ∎ the classical Greek and Roman authors. DERIVATIVES: an·cient·ness n. an·cient2 • n. archaic a standard, flag, or ensign.
ancient lights the right of access to light of a property, established by custom and used to prevent the construction of buildings on adjacent property which would obstruct such access. Recorded from the mid 18th century, from lights meaning ‘light from the sky’.
Ancient Mariner eponymous hero of Coleridge's poem, sole survivor of a disastrous voyage in which the ship after a storm is drawn to the South Pole, who stops one of three wedding guests and forces him to listen to his story.
The mariner had shot an albatross and brought down a curse on his ship; the dead albatross was hung round the mariner's neck as a penance. The rest of the crew died, but the mariner lived on, and was finally released from the burden. Afterward he was compelled constantly to travel and tell his story as an exemplum of divine grace, and the term Ancient Mariner is sometimes used allusively to denote someone's unwanted presence.
Ancient of Days a name for God, from the scriptural title in Daniel 7:9, ‘the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garments were white as snow’.