a. Having lived or existed for a relatively long time; far advanced in years or life.
b. Relatively advanced in age: Pamela is our oldest child.
- Made long ago; in existence for many years: an old book.
- Of or relating to a long life or to people who have had long lives: a ripe old age.
- Having or exhibiting the physical characteristics of age: a prematurely old face.
- Having or exhibiting the wisdom of age; mature: a child who is old for his years.
- Having lived or existed for a specified length of time: She was 12 years old.
a. Belonging to a remote or former period in history; ancient: old fossils.
b. Belonging to or being of an earlier time: her old classmates.
- often Old Being the earlier or earliest of two or more related objects, stages, versions, or periods.
a. Having become slower in flow and less vigorous in action. Used of a river.
b. Having become simpler in form and of lower relief. Used of a landform.
- Exhibiting the effects of time or long use; worn: an old coat.
- Known through long acquaintance; long familiar: an old friend.
- Skilled or able through long experience; practiced.
- often ol' (ōl)
a. Used as an intensive: Come back any old time. Don't give me any ol' excuse.
b. Used to express affection or familiarity: Good ol' Sam.
- An individual of a specified age: a five-year-old.
- Old people considered as a group. Used with the: caring for the old.
- Former times; yore: in days of old.
Origin: Middle English
Origin: , from Old English eald; see al-2 in Indo-European roots
Related Forms: Usage Note: Old
is the bluntest of the adjectives most commonly used in referring to advanced or advancing age. It generally suggests at least a degree of age-related infirmity, and for that reason it is often avoided in formal or polite speech. Many prefer elderly
as a more neutral and respectful term, but it too can suggest frailty, especially in reference to individuals as opposed to a group or population. And while senior
enjoys wide usage as both a noun and adjective in many civic or social contexts, it is often considered unpleasantly euphemistic in a phrase such as the senior couple living next door.
• As a comparative form, older
would logically seem to indicate greater age than old.
Except when a direct comparison is being made, however, the opposite is generally true. The older man in the tweed jacket
suggests a somewhat younger or more vigorous man than if one substitutes old
expresses an absolute, an arrival at old age, older
takes a more relative view of aging as a continuum—older, but not yet old. As such, older
is more than just a euphemism for the blunter old,
offering as it does a more precise term for someone between middle and advanced age. And unlike elderly, older
does not particularly suggest frailness or infirmity, making it the natural choice in many situations. See Usage Note at elder1