1. Of secondary importance; subordinate: "For Degas, sculpture was never more than ancillary to his painting" (Herbert Read).
2. Auxiliary or accessory: an ancillary pump.
n. pl. an·cil·lar·ies
1. Something that is subordinate or accessory to something else: a tripod, battery charger, and other camera ancillaries.
2. A person working in a supportive or subordinate role: school ancillaries who look after children who become sick.
[From Latin ancilla, maidservant, feminine diminutive of anculus, servant; see kwel-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.