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
- Obs. 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 (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.
Usage Note: In comparisons between two persons, the adjective elder is simply a more formal term for “older” and has no implication of advanced age: My elder sibling is fourteen; my younger is nine. In other contexts it does denote relatively old age, but with the added component of respect for a person's position or achievement: an elder statesman; an elder member of the court. If the simple fact of advanced or relatively advanced age is the point, older or elderly are usually more appropriate than elder: a survey of older Americans; an elderly waiter. • As with the adjective, the noun elder can be used comparatively without implying old age: He is my elder by three years. It can also refer to an office in certain churches or, more broadly, to a position of authority or respect conferred by age and experience: an elder in the Presbyterian Church; a tribal elder. The use of elder in the sense of “an elderly person” is uncommon in contemporary English, though it is widely used as an attributive in such phrases as elder care (or eldercare ) and elder services. See Usage Note at old.
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”)