Ancient and Antique

Ancient and Antique: Know the Difference

Ancient and antique are two synonymous words that often confused ESL learners as well as English native speakers.

Hearing these words get us into a nostalgic vibe, bringing back memories of the old. Sure, they seem closely related as these give us the sense of being swept back into the past. However, most people unknowingly use ancient and antique as if they’re indistinguishable. So which is which, ancient or antique?

In a general sense, when we say ancient that mainly pertains to something that has lasted for a long duration of time. When we say antique, just think about your grandmother’s most prized possessions from the past.

To end the ambiguity, gear yourself up as we head on straight to the exact difference between ancient and antique.

The meaning of ancient

Although the words ancient and antique are synonyms, these two words have their own share of subtle differences. Commonly used as an adjective, the word ancient refers to something coming from a very long time in the past. We generally use this word to describe culture, architecture, and a period in history.


Ancient ruins like the Parthenon show the rich culture of Greece.

In ancient Rome, people worshipped a lot of gods and goddesses.

In addition, we can also use ancient to describe something that is very old but in a different sense compared with antique. Besides, this word is also appropriate when we describe something that people use for a very long time that needs to be updated. Take this sentence as an example:

That television is ancient. You need to get a new one.

As a noun, this word refers to a person who lived for a very long time in the past. Normally, we use this word in its plural form.


The ancients used a different education system which was based on argumentative talent.

The meaning of antique

While ancient encompasses to describe aspects of history, antique highlights on describing something made in the past which is collected or kept due to its value or quality. It is often used for old collectibles or household furniture. Additionally, we can use this word as an adjective or noun.


This antique table has been used for family dinners since I was a child. It’s hard to let it go. (adjective)

Stacie enjoys collecting antiques, from jewelry to silverware. (noun)

If you want to crack a joke, you may use the word ancient to refer to someone or something that is very old-fashioned.


I can’t keep up with the youth’s trend today. I feel like an antique.

Ancient and Antique: In a Nutshell

Landing on this page was a good opportunity for you to learn about the words ancient and antique. I bet you can now tell the difference and use them more appropriately. These words may seem confusing like house and home, yet getting right to the context is key.

The word ancient, used as a noun and an adjective, describes aspects from a long time in history, such as civilizations and people. This also expresses that an object is already very old and needs an update.

Antique, on the other hand, is used to talk about your most valuable possessions that were created in the old times and are still kept under one’s care. Your grandmother’s probably got a lot of these. No matter how old antiques are, their essence remains.

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