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elder1

[el-der] /ˈɛl dər/
adjective, a compar. of old with eldest as superl.
1.
of greater age; older.
2.
of higher rank; senior:
an elder officer.
3.
of or relating to former times; earlier:
Much that was forbidden by elder custom is accepted today.
noun
4.
a person who is older or higher in rank than oneself.
5.
an aged person.
6.
an influential member of a tribe or community, often a chief or ruler; a superior.
7.
a presbyter.
8.
(in certain Protestant churches) a lay member who is a governing officer, often assisting the pastor in services.
9.
Mormon Church. a member of the Melchizedek priesthood.
Origin
900
before 900; Middle English; Old English eldra, comparative of eald old
Can be confused
elder, older (see synonym study at older)
Synonyms
1. See older.
Antonyms
1. younger.

elder2

[el-der] /ˈɛl dər/
noun
1.
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.
Origin
before 900; Middle English eldre, elrene, ellerne, Old English ellærn; cognate with Middle Low German ellern
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for elders
  • It was migrating westward and taking great risks in pursuit of new opportunities its elders had not enjoyed.
  • Teenagers, elders and amputees have attempted the mountain in the past two years.
  • The guardians, the elders and their media, want it back.
  • Jerry and his team were already shaking hands with the a few village elders still standing around.
  • All one had to do was have the elders pray over you, sing gospel music and read a few scriptures-talk about a simple program.
  • Village elders observed the flowering of the baobab tree or the flights of bees to tell them when to plant.
  • The younger generation can't even comprehend why their elders worry about privacy.
  • elders worry about how modernization pushes out words for traditional skills, such as long-distance canoe navigation.
  • Sometimes they were the ministers or elders of said church.
  • But tribal elders quickly began to warm up to the fabricated beaks, and some tribal members even got involved with making them.
British Dictionary definitions for elders

elder1

/ˈɛldə/
adjective
1.
born earlier; senior Compare older
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)
  1. prior in rank, position, or office
  2. of a previous time; former
noun
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
Derived Forms
eldership, noun
Usage note
The word elder is being increasingly used, as a more respectful way of referring to older people: elder care, elder abuse
Word Origin
Old English eldra, comparative of ealdold; related to Old Norse ellri, Old High German altiro, Gothic althiza

elder2

/ˈɛldə/
noun
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
Compare alder
Word Origin
Old English ellern; related to Old Norse elrir, Old High German erlīn, Old Slavonic jelǐcha, Latin alnus

Elder

/ˈɛldə/
noun
1.
Sir Mark Philip. born 1947, British conductor; musical director of the English National Opera (1979–93) and of the Hallé Orchestra from 2000
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 elders

elder

adj.

"more old," Old English (Mercian) eldra, comparative of eald, ald (see old); only English survival of umlaut in comparison. Superseded by older since 16c. Elder statesman (1921) originally was a translation of Japanese genro (plural).

n.

"senior citizen," c.1200, from Old English eldra "older person, parent" (used in biblical translation for Greek presbyter); see elder (adj.). The Old English for "grandfather" was ealdfæder.

type of berry tree, c.1400, from earlier ellen, from Old English ellæn, ellærn "elderberry tree," origin unknown, perhaps related to alder. Common Germanic, cf. Old Saxon elora, Middle Low German elre, Old High German elira, German Eller, Erle. Related: Elderberry.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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elders in the Bible

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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