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Alternative forms[edit]


ancient +‎ -ry.


  • IPA(key): /ˈeɪn.ʃən.tɹi/


ancientry (plural ancientries)

  1. (archaic) The quality or fact of being ancient or very old.
    • 1825, Thomas Dudley Fosbroke, Encyclopædia of Antiquities, London: John Nichols & Son, Volume I, p. 301,[1]
      PEN, made of reed, cut, &c. like our pens, is of classical ancientry; but the first certain account of quill pens is in 636, in Isidore.
    • 1890, Gleeson White (ed.), The Master Painters of Britain, London: Caxton, Volume I, Introductory, p. xix,[2]
      The far past and to-day rarely fail to please; it is the day before yesterday and yesterday which have lost their power to charm us by novelty and instant sympathy with our moods, and have also not yet acquired the glamour of ancientry, or the sentimental forgiveness we are willing to bestow on ancestors sufficiently remote.
  2. (archaic) Old-fashioned style, elaborate ceremony.
    • c. 1598, William Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing, Act II, Scene 1,[3]
      [] wooing, wedding, and repenting, is as a Scotch jig, a measure, and a cinque pace: the first suit is hot and hasty, like a Scotch jig, and full as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly-modest, as a measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes repentance and, with his bad legs, falls into the cinque pace faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.
    • 1888, Rudyard Kipling, ‘His Chance in Life’, Plain Tales from the Hills, Folio 2005, p. 58:
      So he and Miss Vezzis were married with great state and ancientry; and now there are several little D'Cruzes sprawling about the verandahs of the Central Telegraph Office.
    • 1902, Henry James, The Wings of the Dove:
      He had seen her but in places comparatively great—in her aunt's pompous house, under the high trees of Kensington and the storied ceilings of Venice. He had seen her, in Venice, on a great occasion, as the centre itself of the splendid Piazza: he had seen her there, on a still greater one, in his own poor rooms, which yet had consorted with her, having state and ancientry even in their poorness; but Mrs. Condrip's interior, even by this best view of it and though not flagrantly mean, showed itself as a setting almost grotesquely inapt.
    • 1950, Mervyn Peake, Gormenghast, London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, Chapter One, III,
      Shuffling from ceremony to ceremony, his sere head raised against its natural desire to drop forward on his chest and covered with as many pits and fissures as a cracked cheese, he personifies the ancientry of his high office.
  3. (archaic) Elderly people, elders, ancients (collectively).
    • c. 1610, William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale, Act III, Scene 3,[4]
      I would there were no age between sixteen and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting—
    • 1931, John Buchan, The Blanket of the Dark, Chapter 3,[5]
      The man and all his kin, the ancientry of England, were at deadly enmity with this Welshman who had curbed their power, and was bringing in a horde of new men to take their places.
  4. (archaic) Something ancient (countable); ancient things (collectively).
    • 1898, John Mortimer, Samples from the Note Books of an Uncommercial Traveller, “Yarmouth to Barmouth,” p. 91,[6]
      Kings Lynn is a pleasant town to ramble about. [] In its quiet and more secluded streets you come upon bits of ancientry, the waifs and strays of monastic times []
    • 1904, Henry James, The Golden Bowl, Book One, Part 1, VI,[7]
      [] the shopman’s slim, light fingers, with neat nails, touched them at moments, briefly, nervously, tenderly, as those of a chess-player rest, a few seconds, over the board, on a figure he thinks he may move and then may not: small florid ancientries, ornaments, pendants, lockets, brooches, buckles, pretexts for dim brilliants, bloodless rubies, pearls either too large or too opaque for value; miniatures mounted with diamonds that had ceased to dazzle; snuffboxes presented to—or by—the too-questionable great; cups, trays, taper-stands, suggestive of pawn-tickets, archaic and brown, that would themselves, if preserved, have been prized curiosities.
    • 1905, William Penn Shockley, “The Lady of the Morn” in Forest Leaves, p. 7,[8]
      O fair, sweet lady of the morn,
      Walking breast-high amid the pines,
      Hast thou the darkling raven taught
      To croak her fabled ancientries?
  5. (archaic) The olden days; antiquity.
    • 1855, Philip James Bailey, “A Spiritual Legend” in The Mystic and Other Poems, Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1856, p. 67,[9]
      Ere all, in ancientry æterne, was God
      (Holy and blessed always be His name)
      In essence inconceivable.