ar·cha·ic (är-kāĭk) also ar·cha·i·cal (-ĭ-kəl)
1. also Archaic Relating to, being, or characteristic of a much earlier, often more primitive period, especially one that develops into a classical stage of civilization: an archaic bronze statuette; Archaic Greece.
2. No longer current or applicable; antiquated: archaic laws. See Synonyms at old.
3. Relating to, being, or characteristic of words and language that were once in regular use but are now relatively rare and suggestive of an earlier style or period.
a. Relating to or being an early or premodern evolutionary form of an organism or group of organisms: archaic vertebrates.
b. Relating to or being an early form of Homo sapiens or a closely related species, such as Neanderthal, that is anatomically distinct from modern humans.
5. Archaic Relating to a Native American culture prevalent throughout much of North America from about 8000 BC to about 1000 BC, characterized especially by the development of Mesolithic tools and by the increased reliance on smaller game animals as the large Pleistocene mammals became extinct.
A member of an archaic population of Homo.
[Greek arkhāïkos, old-fashioned, from arkhaios, ancient, from arkhē, beginning, from arkhein, to begin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 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.