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From Latin ancillāris (ancillary; relating to maids), from ancilla (maid).


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈæns.əˌlɛɹ.iː/
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ænˈsɪl.ə.ɹi/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪləɹi


ancillary (comparative more ancillary, superlative most ancillary)

  1. Subordinate; secondary; auxiliary.
    Synonym: accessory
    • 1836, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature, Chapter 3:
      [] how easily he took all things along with him,—the persons, the opinions, and the day, and nature became ancillary to a man.
    • 1898, John Wesley Powell, “Chapter 7”, in Truth and Error:
      [E]very organ of the body, whatever function it may perform, must also perform the other four functions in an ancillary manner.
    • 2019, Li Huang, James Lambert, “Another Arrow for the Quiver: A New Methodology for Multilingual Researchers”, in Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, →DOI, page 4:
      The cafeteria is primarily used by students and staff (academic, administrative, and ancillary).
Derived terms[edit]



ancillary (plural ancillaries)

  1. Something that serves an ancillary function, such as an easel for a painter.
    • 1950 November, “Mixed-Traffic Diesel-Electric Locomotives for Ireland”, in Railway Magazine, page 781:
      Auxiliaries and ancillaries are comprehensive, and include a Westinghouse motor-driven recriprocating compressor used for locomotive braking and general service air, two rotary exhauster sets for train brakes when hauling passenger or fitted freight trains, and an oil-fired train heating boiler.
  2. (archaic) An auxiliary.