Word Origin & History
O.E. (Mercian) eldra, eldrost, comp. and superl. of eald, ald "old;" only English survival of umlaut in comparison. Superseded by older, oldest since 16c. Elder statesman (1921) originally was a translation of Japanese genro. As a noun, elder was used in biblical translation for Gk. presbyter. The O.E.
for "grandfather" was ealdfæder.