elder

1
[ el-der ]
/ ˈɛl dər /

adjective a compar. of old with eldest as superl.

noun

Origin of elder

1
before 900; Middle English; Old English eldra, comparative of eald old

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH elder

elder older (see synonym study at older)

Definition for elder (2 of 3)

elder2
[ el-der ]
/ ˈɛl dər /

noun

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 of elder

2
before 900; Middle English eldre, elrene, ellerne, Old English ellærn; cognate with Middle Low German ellern

Definition for elder (3 of 3)

old
[ ohld ]
/ oʊld /

adjective, old·er, old·est or eld·er, eld·est.

noun

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

SYNONYMS FOR old

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.

OTHER WORDS FROM old

old·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for elder

British Dictionary definitions for elder (1 of 4)

elder1
/ (ˈɛldə) /

adjective

born earlier; seniorCompare older
(in piquet and similar card games) denoting or relating to the nondealer (the elder hand), who has certain advantages in the play
archaic
  1. prior in rank, position, or office
  2. of a previous time; former

noun

Derived forms of elder

eldership, noun

Word Origin for elder

Old English eldra, comparative of eald old; related to Old Norse ellri, Old High German altiro, Gothic althiza

usage for elder

The word elder is being increasingly used, as a more respectful way of referring to older people: elder care, elder abuse

British Dictionary definitions for elder (2 of 4)

elder2
/ (ˈɛldə) /

noun

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
any of various unrelated plants, such as box elder and marsh elder
Compare alder

Word Origin for elder

Old English ellern; related to Old Norse elrir, Old High German erlīn, Old Slavonic jelǐcha, Latin alnus

British Dictionary definitions for elder (3 of 4)

Elder
/ (ˈɛldə) /

noun

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

British Dictionary definitions for elder (4 of 4)

old
/ (əʊld) /

adjective

noun

an earlier or past time (esp in the phrase of old)in days of old

Derived forms of old

oldish, adjectiveoldness, noun

Word Origin for old

Old English eald; related to Old Saxon ald, Old High German, German alt, Latin altus high

usage for old

Many people nowadays prefer to talk about older people rather than old people, and the phrase the old is best avoided altogether
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

Idioms and Phrases with elder

old

In addition to the idioms beginning with old

  • old as Adam
  • old chestnut
  • old college try, the
  • old saw
  • old shoe
  • old stamping ground
  • old story, an
  • old wives' tale

also see:

  • any old
  • chip off the old block
  • comfortable as an old shoe
  • dirty joke (old man)
  • get the air (old heave-ho)
  • no fool like an old fool
  • of old
  • ripe old age
  • same old story
  • settle a score (old scores)
  • stamping ground, old
  • teach an old dog new tricks
  • up to one's old tricks
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.