re olds

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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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