9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[el-der-lee] /ˈɛl dər li/
of advanced age; old:
discounts for elderly patrons.
of or relating to persons in later life.
(used with a plural verb) elderly people collectively; senior citizens (usually preceded by the):
Doctors recommend that young children and the elderly get vaccinated.
Origin of elderly
1605-15; elder1 + -ly
Related forms
elderliness, noun
nonelderly, noun
unelderly, adjective
1. See old. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for elderly
  • Someday, in a house next door, a robot may be playing a game of cribbage with an elderly widow.
  • elderly visitors who drink the spring's sulfur-smelling water don't turn into teenagers.
  • But bites can be fatal-usually to small children, the elderly, or the infirm.
  • Some elderly males do become completely white, though many retain small flecks of dusky plumage.
  • If possible, talk to elderly residents who might have interesting stories to share about the changes they've seen in the area.
  • Ash and toxic gases can cause lung damage and other problems, particularly for infants and the elderly.
  • In the developed world cataracts hardly ever cause blindness, and mostly elderly people are affected.
  • In reality, the nebula is made of two elderly stars.
  • One cure for age discrimination against elderly habitat is to hike through what replaces it after logging.
  • Such beliefs are fading with the tigers, recalled now only by the elderly.
British Dictionary definitions for elderly


adjective (of people)
  1. quite old; past middle age
  2. (as collective noun; preceded by the): the elderly, related adjective geriatric
Derived Forms
elderliness, noun
Usage note
Referring to any group using the formula the elderly, the disabled is nowadays felt to be inappropriate because it glosses over people's individuality and perpetuates stereotypes. It is preferable to use phrases such as disabled people and so forth. Many people also prefer to talk about older rather than elderly people for similar reasons
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for elderly

1610s, from elder + -ly (1). Old English ealdorlic meant "chief, princely, excellent, authentic." Old English also had related eldernliche "of old time," literally "forefatherly."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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