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[see-nahyl, -nil, sen-ahyl] /ˈsi naɪl, -nɪl, ˈsɛn aɪl/
showing a decline or deterioration of physical strength or mental functioning, especially short-term memory and alertness, as a result of old age or disease.
of or belonging to old age or aged persons; gerontological; geriatric.
Physical Geography. (of topographical features) having been reduced by erosion to a featureless plain that stands everywhere at base level.
Compare peneplain.
a senile person.
Origin of senile
1655-65; < Latin senīlis old, equivalent to sen(ex) old man (akin to senior) + -īlis -ile
Related forms
unsenile, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for senile
Historical Examples
  • Infantile paradoxy is, however, very different to senile paradoxy.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • The hunger that possessed her made her wag her head as if senile.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
  • His father-in-law was paralyzed and his aunt-in-law was senile.

    The Gorgeous Girl

    Nalbro Bartley
  • "I've not been as idle as Tode thinks," said Parrish, with a senile leer.

  • Her old husband, too, overheard it, and took snuff with a senile chuckle.

    Brother Copas

    Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
  • She resented this indignantly; felt that they regarded her as senile.

    Gigolo Edna Ferber
  • Otherwise Bach would be dead; Beethoven, middle-aged; Mozart, senile.

    Old Fogy James Huneker
  • It is too depressing, these vagaries, these senile ramblings of a superannuated musician.

    Old Fogy James Huneker
  • The latter, with a senile and pleased chuckle, tapped him on the chest.

    Mountain Blood Joseph Hergesheimer
  • He paused a moment to control his senile anger and then went quavering on.

    Patsy S. R. Crockett
British Dictionary definitions for senile


of, relating to, or characteristic of old age
mentally or physically weak or infirm on account of old age
(of land forms or rivers) at an advanced stage in the cycle of erosion See old (sense 18)
Derived Forms
senilely, adverb
senility (sɪˈnɪlɪtɪ) noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin senīlis, from senex an old man
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 senile

1660s, "suited to old age," from French sénile (16c.), from Latin senilis "of old age," from senex (genitive senis) "old, old man," from PIE root *sen- "old" (cf. Sanskrit sanah "old;" Avestan hana- "old;" Old Persian hanata- "old age, lapse of time;" Armenian hin "old;" Greek enos "old, of last year;" Lithuanian senas "old," senis "an old man;" Gothic sineigs "old" (used only of persons), sinistra "elder, senior;" Old Norse sina "dry standing grass from the previous year;" Old Irish sen, Old Welsh hen "old"). Meaning "weak or infirm from age" is first attested 1848.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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senile in Medicine

senile se·nile (sē'nīl', sěn'īl')

  1. Relating to, characteristic of, or resulting from old age.

  2. Exhibiting the symptoms of senility, as impaired memory or the inability to perform certain mental tasks.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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