A little girl with her elder brother.
- Elder means being older than others.
An example of elder used as an adjective is in the phrase "the elder member of the family," which means the oldest member of the family.
- The definition of an elder is an older person or an ancestor.
An example of an elder is a 95 year old man.
- born or brought forth earlier than another or others; exceeding another in age; senior; older
- Obsolete of longer standing or superior rank, position, validity, etc.
- Now Rare earlier; former; ancient
Origin of elderMiddle English ; from Old English (Mercian) eldra, ældra, comparative ; from base of ald, eald, old
- an older person
- an aged person
- a forefather; ancestor; predecessor
- an older person with some authority or dignity in a tribe or community
- an officer in an early Christian church
- in some Protestant churches, a minister; also, a member appointed to the ruling body who may also assist at Communion
- ☆ Mormon Ch. a member of the Melchizedek priesthood
- any of a genus (Sambucus) of shrubs and small trees of the honeysuckle family, with compound leaves and flat-topped clusters of small white flowers followed by red or purple berries
- any of various unrelated plants, as the box elder or the marsh elder
Origin of elderMiddle English ellerne and amp; (with intrusive -d- as in alder) eldore ; from Old English ellern, ellen, akin to Middle Low German ellern, eldern ; from Indo-European base an unverified form el- from source elm, alder, Classical Latin alnus, elder
- Greater than another in age or seniority.
- Archaic Superior to another or others, as in rank.
- An older person.
- An older, influential member of a family, tribe, or community.
- One of the governing officers of a church, often having pastoral or teaching functions.
- Mormon Church A member of the higher order of priesthood.
Origin of elderMiddle English eldre, from Old English eldra; see al-2 in Indo-European roots.
Origin of elderMiddle English eldre, from Old English ellærn.
The normal comparative of old is older. The irregular form elder is sometimes used with family members, but otherwise rare (except in fixed expressions such as elder statesman). Elder is generally limited to attributive position (my elder brother) and does not occur in predicative position (*my brother is elder).
- An older person or an older member, usually a leader, of some community.
- We were presented to the village elder.
- One who is older than another.
- Respect your elders.
- One who lived at an earlier period; a predecessor.
- An officer of a church, sometimes having teaching responsibilities.
- A clergyman authorized to administer all the sacraments.
- a travelling elder
- (US, Mormonism) One ordained to the lowest office in the Melchizedek priesthood.
- After being a member of the Church for a while, Bill was ordained to the office of elder.
- Jack had been an elder for only a few days when he received a new calling.
- (US, Mormonism) Male missionary, title for a male missionary; title for a general authority.
- The elders are coming over for dinner tonight.
- One of the long-time leaders in the Church is Elder Packer.
- (paganism and Heathenry) A pagan or Heathen priest or priestess.
From Middle English eldre, eller, from Old English ellærn, from Proto-Germanic *el(d)ernaz (confer Low German Elhorn, Elloorn), adjectival from Proto-Indo-European *h₁edʰ-l-i 'spruce, fir' (compare Middle Irish aidlen 'silver fir', Latin ebulus (“dwarf elder”), Old Prussian addle 'fir', Czech jedle 'silver fir', Ancient Greek ἐλάτη (elate, “silver fir”)
Variant of old
adjectiveolder or elder, oldest or eldest
- having lived or been in existence for a long time; aged
- of, like, or characteristic of aged people; specif., mature in judgment, wise, etc.
- of a certain or specified age or duration: a child ten years old
- made or produced some time ago; not new
- familiar or known from the past; accustomed: up to his old tricks
- designating the form of a language in its earliest attested stage: Old English
- having been in use for a long time; worn out by age or use; shabby
- that was at one time; former: my old teacher
- having had long experience or practice: an old hand at this work
- belonging to the remote past; having existed long ago; ancient: an old civilization
- dating or continuing from some period long before the present; of long standing: an old tradition
- designating the earlier or earliest of two or more: the Old World
- Informal dear: a term of affection or cordiality: old boy
- Informal tiresome, annoying, etc., esp. as a result of repetition or monotony: their incessant chatter has gotten old
- Geol. having reached the stage of greatly decreased activity or showing extensive reduction of topographical form: said of streams, mountain ranges, etc.
Origin of oldMiddle English ; from Old English (Anglian) ald, West Saxon eald, akin to German alt ; from Indo-European base an unverified form al-, to grow from source Classical Latin altus, old, alere, to nourish: basic sense “grown”
- time long past; yore: days of old
- a person of a specified age: used in hyphenated compounds: a six-year-old
- something old: with the
- old people: often with the