What is the difference between Ancient and Antient?
I was inspired to have a look at this after a conversation with a well respected brother in the lodge. I have always regarded the latter as being an old form of the former. That is, both words have the same meaning as well as the same pronunciation. But my brother did not agree. He agreed that the two words had the same meaning but pronounced antient with emphasis on the T. My own thought is that the modern pronunciation of the word in fact fits the old spelling quite well and the modern spelling is a corruption. I believe that people believed they were hearing a C sound when there is none.
It was time to do a bit of digging and delving.
The Wiktionery gives the meanings for ancient as:
Having lasted from a remote period; having been of long duration; of great age; very old. or
Existent or occurring in time long past, usually in remote ages; belonging to or associated with antiquity; old, as opposed to modern.
The same dictionary gives us the following for antient:
(plural antients) Obsolete spelling of ancient.
None of this is all that satisfying. I guess it means that we will have to go on arguing forever. On a lighter side here are some other obsolete forms of ancient.
The etymology of the word is as follows:
From Middle English auncyen, from Old French ancien (“old”), from Latin root *anteanus < ante (“before”).
Our modern word, antique, seems to stem from the obsolete word, antient.
Food for thought.