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[ohld] /oʊld/
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 relating 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, relating 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.
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.
Origin 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
Related forms
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for old
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But the old buck he seemed to be on the high-speed gear himself.

  • "That contains the spirit of all prayer," said the old philosopher.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • For one reason, he was an old man, and the pace set by the lovers was killing.

    Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer Cyrus Townsend Brady
  • So the old man and the young man made the round of the Bines properties.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • She has deposited the old man in that easy-chair for a doze, I fancy.

    Luttrell Of Arran Charles James Lever
British Dictionary definitions for old


having lived or existed for a relatively long time: an old man, an old tradition, old wine, an old house, an old country
  1. of or relating to advanced years or a long life: old age
  2. (as collective noun; preceded by the): the old
  3. old and young, people of all ages
decrepit or senile
worn with age or use: old clothes, an old car
  1. (postpositive) having lived or existed for a specified period: a child who is six years old
  2. (in combination): a six-year-old child
  3. (as noun in combination): a six-year-old
(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
(capital when part of a name) designating the form of a language in which the earliest known records are written: Old English
(prenominal) familiar through long acquaintance or repetition: an old friend, an old excuse
practised; hardened: old in cunning
(prenominal) often preceded by good. cherished; dear: used as a term of affection or familiarity: good old George
(informal) (with any of several nouns) used as a familiar form of address to a person: old thing, old bean, old stick, old fellow
skilled through long experience (esp in the phrase an old hand)
out-of-date; unfashionable
remote or distant in origin or time of origin: an old culture
(prenominal) former; previous: my old house was small
  1. (prenominal) established for a relatively long time: an old member
  2. (in combination): old-established
sensible, wise, or mature: old beyond one's years
(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 See also youthful (sense 4), mature (sense 6)
(intensifier) (esp in phrases such as a good old time, any old thing, any old how, etc)
(of crops) harvested late
good old days, an earlier period of time regarded as better than the present
(informal) little old, indicating affection, esp humorous affection: my little old wife
(informal) the old one, the old gentleman, a jocular name for Satan
an earlier or past time (esp in the phrase of old): in days of old
Derived Forms
oldish, adjective
oldness, noun
Usage note
Many people nowadays prefer to talk about older people rather than old people, and the phrase the old is best avoided altogether
Word Origin
Old English eald; related to Old Saxon ald, Old High German, German alt, Latin altus high
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 old

Old English ald (Anglian), eald (West Saxon) "aged, antique, primeval; elder, experienced," from West Germanic *althas "grown up, adult" (cf. Old Frisian ald, Gothic alþeis, Dutch oud, German alt), originally a past participle stem of a verb meaning "grow, nourish" (cf. Gothic alan "to grow up," Old Norse ala "to nourish"), from PIE root *al- "to grow, nourish" (cf. Greek aldaino "make grow, strengthen," althein, althainein "to get well;" Latin alere "to feed, nourish, bring up, increase," altus "high," literally "grown tall," almus "nurturing, nourishing," alumnus "fosterling, step-child;" Old Irish alim "I nourish").

The usual PIE root is *sen- (see senior (adj.)). A few Indo-European 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. Latin senex was used of aged living things, mostly persons, while vetus (literally "having many years") was used of inanimate things. Greek geraios was used mostly of humans; Greek palaios was used mostly of things, of persons only in a derogatory sense. Greek also had arkhaios, literally "belonging to the beginning," which parallels French ancien, used mostly with reference to things "of former times."

Old English also had fyrn "ancient," related to Old English feor "far, distant" (see far, and cf. Gothic fairneis, Old Norse forn "old, of old, of former times," Old High German firni "old, experienced"). The original Old English vowel is preserved in Scots auld, also in alderman. The original comparative and superlative (elder, eldest) are retained in particular uses.

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 late 14c. Old Glory for "the American flag" is first attested 1862. Old maid "woman who remains single well beyond the usual marrying age" is from 1520s; the card game is attested by that name from 1844. Old man "man who has lived long" is from c.1200; sense of "husband, father, boss" is from 1854, earlier (1830) it was military slang for "commanding officer;" old lady "wife, mother" is attested from c.1775. Old English is attested from 1701, originally as a type of font. Old boy originally was a former pupil of one of the English public schools. Old Testament attested from mid-14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for old



Good; dear; well-liked: What's old Donald up to now? (1598+)

Related Terms

any old

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with old
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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