1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ancient

ANCIENT (also spelt Antient; derived, through the Fr. ancien, old, from the late Lat. antianum, from ante, before), old or in olden times. “Ancient history” is distinguished from medieval and modern, generally as meaning before the fall of the western Roman empire. In English legal history, “ancient” tenure or demesne refers to what was crown property in the time of Edward the Confessor or William the Conqueror. “The Ancient of days” is a Biblical phrase for God. In the London Inns of Court the senior barristers used to be called “ancients.” From the 16th to the 18th century the word was also used, by confusion with “ensign,” i.e; flag or standard-bearer, for that military title, as in the case of Shakespeare’s “ancient Pistol”; but this use has nothing to do with “ancient” meaning “old.”