I am looking for a word to contrast with neophile. Just as a neophile loves novelty for the sake of it, I want to describe a person who loves old or ancient things (may include the abstract, e.g. tradition or bygone mannerisms).

A neophobe is ruled out, since that is merely a rejection of newness. Antiquarian comes to mind, but that seems to be specifically for human history (its objects and trivia). The word I'm after could refer to someone who loves fossils or ancient rocks (of which there are many. . .).

So, what word describes a person who loves an object or concept on account of its age? Perhaps archaeophile or paleophile?

  • 2
    Given all your strictures, I like your paleophile better than any of those below. If you really want to rub it in, *palæophile"! Aug 23, 2012 at 21:40
  • @StoneyB Do you think a reader could suss out the meaning (in context) without the need for exposition? I'd want to avoid something like: "Her love of anything with a history behind it, from fossils to Fabergé eggs, made her a certified paleophile."
    – Zairja
    Aug 24, 2012 at 12:52
  • 2
    If you're in doubt, turn it around. "She was a certifiable palaeophile: she loved anything with a history behind it, &c". Certifiable rather than certified, unless she was actually designated as a sufferer from this disorder by a competent authority! Aug 24, 2012 at 15:17
  • @StoneyB Point taken, though if she compulsively buys everything at thrift stores and skips work to watch "The History Channel" then treatment might be imminent ;)
    – Zairja
    Aug 24, 2012 at 15:31
  • Antiquarian seems better than the alternatives, notwithstanding your objection.
    – Charles
    Jun 18, 2014 at 17:19

3 Answers 3


In normal usage, I think the word is "traditionalist".

"Paleophile" would be a better word but I don't find it in any dictionary: it's not an accepted word.

  • Very late addition and clarification *

If there is no well-known word that expresses an idea you want, you can, of course, always make up a word or use a word that somebody else made up and that only 10 people in the world know. But then you can't expect your readers to know what it means. You'd have to define it. Don't make up a word or use an obscure word with no explanation.

If you would only use this word once or twice, I'd say, in general, don't. Just use a phrase to explain what you mean. If you need to use the word many times so that using the same phrase over and over would be awkward, then sure, invent a new word, define it, and then use it.

Like, "These people are what I will call 'paleophiles', by which I mean, people who love old or ancient things. Paleophiles often ..." etc.

  • I think I'll go with "paleophile". "Traditionalist" doesn't really apply since it's limited to human customs and I need a word that extends to anything of great age, like pyramids or the Acasta Gneisses.
    – Zairja
    Aug 24, 2012 at 12:57
  • 2
    careful! that word has strong paraphilic connotations
    – user49727
    Aug 15, 2013 at 20:37
  • According to urban dictionary "Paleophilia" means something else! urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Paleophilia
    – Jayesh
    May 25, 2017 at 0:36
  • 1
    @Zairja The OED attests palaeophilist: a person who loves antiquities, an antiquarian. The main stress falls on the middle of its five syllables, the one that’s represented by the letter ‘o’ in the spelling.
    – tchrist
    Aug 8, 2021 at 16:18

There's retrophiliac who is "someone who has a strong liking for things from the past". I'm not sure if "ancient" is retro enough or if it's limited to the material ... But there you go.

Nostalgia is also a possibility if the period in question isn't as expansive.

  • 1
    +1 See also this link
    – bib
    Aug 23, 2012 at 21:19
  • @bib Some of the related words on that page are quite amusing. Ostalgia: "Nostalgia for the goods, symbols, and culture of the former East Germany"; Nanostalgia: "Nostalgia for an event that has only just finished" ... :) Aug 24, 2012 at 4:42
  • +1 although its usage seems based on retro (the style), at least it has some precedence unlike the neologisms I suggested
    – Zairja
    Aug 24, 2012 at 12:38

I like the rare and probably recently made-up "archaiphile."

  • 1
    The normal combining form of the root in "archaic" is "archæo" (and its spelling variants "archeo" and "archaeo") as in "archaeology." Occasionally, people use a slightly different transcription from the Greek, in which case we would spell this form "archaio." So "archaiphile" is not well-formed: it would be better to suggest "archaeophile." But the original poster was already aware of this root anyway; can you explain why you like it and why it is a good choice?
    – herisson
    Jun 27, 2016 at 20:47

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