of advanced age; old: discounts for elderly patrons.
of or relating to persons in later life.


(used with a plural verb) elderly people collectively; senior citizens (usually preceded by the): Doctors recommend that young children and the elderly get vaccinated.

Origin of elderly

First recorded in 1605–15; elder1 + -ly
Related formseld·er·li·ness, nounnon·eld·er·ly, nounun·eld·er·ly, adjective

Synonyms for elderly

1. See old.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for elderly

Contemporary Examples of elderly

Historical Examples of elderly

  • "Everything in the world that you want," begged the elderly gentleman.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • He smiled' at Miss Gregg, who was elderly and gray, but visibly his creature.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • One was an elderly savage, with a wrinkled, shrewd countenance.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • There was an elderly lady who insisted on telling John all about the gastric juices!

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • A body of elderly gentlemen charged with high duties and misdemeanors.

British Dictionary definitions for elderly


adjective (of people)

  1. quite old; past middle age
  2. (as collective noun; preceded by the)the elderly Related adjective: geriatric
Derived Formselderliness, noun


Referring to any group using the formula the elderly, the disabled is nowadays felt to be inappropriate because it glosses over people's individuality and perpetuates stereotypes. It is preferable to use phrases such as disabled people and so forth. Many people also prefer to talk about older rather than elderly people for similar reasons
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

Word Origin and History for elderly

1610s, from elder + -ly (1). Old English ealdorlic meant "chief, princely, excellent, authentic." Old English also had related eldernliche "of old time," literally "forefatherly."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper