Ancillary vs auxiliary

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The definitions of ancillary and auxiliary overlap in some ways, but there are slight differences between the meanings of these two words. We will examine the definitions of ancillary and auxiliary, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Ancillary means to provide support to the main operations of a system or organization. While important, something that is deemed ancillary is considered subordinate in importance to the main operation. The word ancillary may be used as a noun or an adjective, it is derived from the Latin word ancillaris, which means having to do with a maidservant.

Auxiliary means providing supplemental help, offering additional support. The words ancillary and auxiliary both carry the meaning of lending help or support, but ancillary carries the connotation that this support is considered subordinate in importance, while auxiliary does not carry this connotation. Auxiliary is also used as a noun or an adjective, it is derived from the Latin word auxiliarius, which means help.


The charities’ justification to the regulator included that the use as share trustees for financial institutions was “ancillary” to the charitable activities. (The Irish Times)

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today said farmers should be encouraged to take up ancillary businesses, like dairy and cattle farming, to improve their financial condition. (The Daily News & Analysis)

Members of the American Legion Auxiliary will continue a nearly 100-year tradition on Saturday as they take up spots in front of area businesses to distribute paper poppies. (The North Platte Telegraph)

William C. Newman Jr., a longtime auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, who oversaw the Catholic schools and chose the priesthood over a chance to play professional baseball, died Saturday of heart failure at Mercy Ridge retirement community in Timonium. (The Baltimore Sun)