1 [el-der]
adjective a compar. of old with eldest as superl.
of greater age; older.
of higher rank; senior: an elder officer.
of or pertaining to former times; earlier: Much that was forbidden by elder custom is accepted today.
a person who is older or higher in rank than oneself.
an aged person.
an influential member of a tribe or community, often a chief or ruler; a superior.
a presbyter.
(in certain Protestant churches) a lay member who is a governing officer, often assisting the pastor in services.
Mormon Church. a member of the Melchizedek priesthood.

before 900; Middle English; Old English eldra, comparative of eald old

1. See older.

1. younger.
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2 [el-der]
any tree or shrub belonging to the genus Sambucus, of the honeysuckle family, having pinnate leaves, clusters of white flowers, and red or black, berrylike fruit.

before 900; Middle English eldre, elrene, ellerne, Old English ellærn; cognate with Middle Low German ellern


adjective, older, oldest or elder, eldest.
far advanced in the years of one's or its life: an old man; an old horse; an old tree.
of or pertaining to the latter part of the life or term of existence of a person or thing: old age.
as if or appearing to be far advanced in years: Worry had made him old.
having lived or existed for a specified time: a man 30 years old; a century-old organization.
having lived or existed as specified with relation to younger or newer persons or things: Jim is our oldest boy.
having been aged for a specified time: This whiskey is eight years old.
having been aged for a comparatively long time: old brandy.
long known or in use: the same old excuse.
overfamiliar to the point of tedium: Some jokes get old fast.
belonging to the past: the good old days.
having been in existence since the distant past: a fine old family.
no longer in general use: This typewriter is an old model.
acquired, made, or in use by one prior to the acquisition, making, or use of something more recent: When the new house was built, we sold the old one.
of, pertaining to, or originating at an earlier period or date: old maps.
prehistoric; ancient: There may have been an old land bridge between Asia and Alaska.
(initial capital letter) (of a language) in its oldest known period, as attested by the earliest written records: Old Czech.
experienced: He's an old hand at welding.
of long standing; having been such for a comparatively long time: an old and trusted employee.
(of colors) dull, faded, or subdued: old rose.
deteriorated through age or long use; worn, decayed, or dilapidated: old clothes.
Physical Geography. (of landforms) far advanced in reduction by erosion or the like.
sedate, sensible, mature, or wise: That child seems old beyond his years.
(used to indicate affection, familiarity, disparagement, or a personalization): good old Bob; that dirty old jalopy.
Informal. (used as an intensive) great; uncommon: a high old time.
former; having been so formerly: a dinner for his old students.
(used with a plural verb) old persons collectively (usually preceded by the ): appropriations to care for the old.
a person or animal of a specified age or age group (used in combination): a class for six-year-olds; a horse race for three-year-olds.
old or former time, often time long past: days of old.

before 900; Middle English; Old English eald, ald; cognate with Dutch old, German alt, Gothic altheis; akin to Old Norse ala to nourish

oldness, noun

1. Old, aged, elderly all mean well along in years. An old person has lived long, nearly to the end of the usual period of life. An aged person is very far advanced in years, and is usually afflicted with the infirmities of age. An elderly person is somewhat old, but usually has the mellowness, satisfactions, and joys of age ahead. 9. olden, early.

1. young.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To elder
World English Dictionary
elder1 (ˈɛldə)
1.  Compare older born earlier; senior
2.  (in piquet and similar card games) denoting or relating to the nondealer (the elder hand), who has certain advantages in the play
3.  archaic
 a.  prior in rank, position, or office
 b.  of a previous time; former
4.  an older person; one's senior
5.  anthropol a senior member of a tribe who has influence or authority
6.  (in certain Protestant Churches) a lay office having teaching, pastoral, or administrative functions
7.  another word for presbyter
[Old English eldra, comparative of ealdold; related to Old Norse ellri, Old High German altiro, Gothic althiza]
usage  The word elder is being increasingly used, as a more respectful way of referring to older people: elder care, elder abuse

elder2 (ˈɛldə)
1.  Also called: elderberry any of various caprifoliaceous shrubs or small trees of the genus Sambucus, having clusters of small white flowers and red, purple, or black berry-like fruits
2.  any of various unrelated plants, such as box elder and marsh elder
[Old English ellern; related to Old Norse elrir, Old High German erlīn, Old Slavonic jelǐcha, Latin alnus]

Elder (ˈɛldə)
Mark Philip. born 1947, British conductor; musical director of the English National Opera (1979--93) and of the Hallé Orchestra from 2000

old (əʊld)
adj (often preceded by good)
1.  having lived or existed for a relatively long time: an old man; an old tradition; old wine; an old house; an old country
2.  a.  of or relating to advanced years or a long life: old age
 b.  (as collective noun; preceded by the): the old
 c.  old and young people of all ages
3.  decrepit or senile
4.  worn with age or use: old clothes; an old car
5.  a.  (postpositive) having lived or existed for a specified period: a child who is six years old
 b.  (in combination): a six-year-old child
 c.  (as noun in combination): a six-year-old
6.  (capital when part of a name or title) earlier or earliest of two or more things with the same name: the old edition; the Old Testament; old Norwich
7.  (capital when part of a name) designating the form of a language in which the earliest known records are written: Old English
8.  (prenominal) familiar through long acquaintance or repetition: an old friend; an old excuse
9.  practised; hardened: old in cunning
10.  cherished; dear: used as a term of affection or familiarity: good old George
11.  informal ( with any of several nouns ) used as a familiar form of address to a person: old thing; old bean; old stick; old fellow
12.  skilled through long experience (esp in the phrase an old hand)
13.  out-of-date; unfashionable
14.  remote or distant in origin or time of origin: an old culture
15.  (prenominal) former; previous: my old house was small
16.  a.  (prenominal) established for a relatively long time: an old member
 b.  (in combination): old-established
17.  sensible, wise, or mature: old beyond one's years
18.  youthful See also mature (of a river, valley, or land surface) in the final stage of the cycle of erosion, characterized by flat extensive flood plains and minimum relief
19.  (intensifier) (esp in phrases such as a good old time, any old thing, any old how, etc)
20.  (of crops) harvested late
21.  good old days an earlier period of time regarded as better than the present
22.  informal little old indicating affection, esp humorous affection: my little old wife
23.  informal the old one, the old gentleman a jocular name for Satan
24.  an earlier or past time (esp in the phrase of old): in days of old
[Old English eald; related to Old Saxon ald, Old High German, German alt, Latin altus high]
usage  Many people nowadays prefer to talk about older people rather than old people, and the phrase the old is best avoided altogether

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. ald (Anglian), eald (W.Saxon), from W.Gmc. *althas "grown up, adult" (cf. O.Fris. ald, Goth. alþeis, Du. oud, Ger. alt), originally a pp. stem of a verb meaning "grow, nourish" (cf. Goth. alan "to grow up," O.N. ala "to nourish"), from PIE base *al- "to grow, nourish" (cf. Gk. aldaino "make
grow, strengthen," althein, althainein "to get well;" L. alere "to feed, nourish, bring up, increase," altus "high," lit. grown tall, almus "nurturing, nourishing," alumnus "fosterling, step-child;" O.Ir. alim "I nourish"). The usual PIE root is *sen- (cf. senior). A few IE languages distinguish words for "old" (vs. young) from words for "old" (vs. new), and some have separate words for aged persons as opposed to old things. L. senex was used of aged living things, mostly persons, while vetus (lit. "having many years") was used of inanimate things. Gk. geraios was used mostly of humans; Gk. palaios was used mostly of things, of persons only in a derogatory sense. Gk. also had arkhaios, lit. "belonging to the beginning," which parallels Fr. ancien, used mostly with ref. to things "of former times." O.E. also had fyrn "ancient," related to O.E. feor "far, distant" (see far, and cf. Goth. fairneis, O.N. forn "old, of old, of former times," O.H.G. firni "old, experienced"). The original O.E. vowel is preserved in Scots auld. The original comp. and superl. retained in particular uses elder, eldest, also alderman). Pseudo-archaic mock-antique variant olde is attested from 1927. Oldie "an old tune or film" is from 1940. First record of old-timer is from 1860. Expression old as the hills first recorded 1819. The good old days dates from 1828. Of old "of old times" is from c.1386. Old Glory for "the American flag" is first attested 1862. Old maid "woman who remains single well beyond the usual marrying age" is from 1530; the card game is attested by that name from 1844. Old man "husband, father, boss" is from 1854, earlier (1830) military slang for "commanding officer;" old lady "wife, mother" is attested from c.1775. Old English is attested from 1849 as a type of black-letter font.

O.E. ellæn, ellærn "elderberry tree," origin unknown, perhaps related to alder.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Elder definition

a name frequently used in the Old Testament as denoting a person clothed with authority, and entitled to respect and reverence (Gen. 50:7). It also denoted a political office (Num. 22:7). The "elders of Israel" held a rank among the people indicative of authority. Moses opened his commission to them (Ex. 3:16). They attended Moses on all important occasions. Seventy of them attended on him at the giving of the law (Ex. 24:1). Seventy also were selected from the whole number to bear with Moses the burden of the people (Num. 11:16, 17). The "elder" is the keystone of the social and political fabric wherever the patriarchal system exists. At the present day this is the case among the Arabs, where the sheik (i.e., "the old man") is the highest authority in the tribe. The body of the "elders" of Israel were the representatives of the people from the very first, and were recognized as such by Moses. All down through the history of the Jews we find mention made of the elders as exercising authority among the people. They appear as governors (Deut. 31:28), as local magistrates (16:18), administering justice (19:12). They were men of extensive influence (1 Sam. 30:26-31). In New Testament times they also appear taking an active part in public affairs (Matt. 16:21; 21:23; 26:59). The Jewish eldership was transferred from the old dispensation to the new. "The creation of the office of elder is nowhere recorded in the New Testament, as in the case of deacons and apostles, because the latter offices were created to meet new and special emergencies, while the former was transmitted from the earlies times. In other words, the office of elder was the only permanent essential office of the church under either dispensation." The "elders" of the New Testament church were the "pastors" (Eph. 4:11), "bishops or overseers" (Acts 20:28), "leaders" and "rulers" (Heb. 13:7; 1 Thess. 5:12) of the flock. Everywhere in the New Testament bishop and presbyter are titles given to one and the same officer of the Christian church. He who is called presbyter or elder on account of his age or gravity is also called bishop or overseer with reference to the duty that lay upon him (Titus 1:5-7; Acts 20:17-28; Phil. 1:1).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
With the tax-filing deadline bearing down, many of us are wrestling with
  financial issues particular to elder care.
He portrayed himself as a tribal elder in a red bobble hat who was going to
  clean up politics and improve people's lives.
The loss of memories and abilities is traumatic to both the elder and the
  family members.
Some people are spry and nimble in their elder years.
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