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


Nearby words

  1. olav v,
  2. olbers,
  3. olbers' paradox,
  4. olbers, heinrich wilhelm matthäus,
  5. olcott,
  6. old adam,
  7. old age,
  8. old age pension,
  9. old as adam,
  10. old bailey

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

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.

Related formsold·ness, noun

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

Examples from the Web for old

British Dictionary definitions for old



having lived or existed for a relatively long timean old man; an old tradition; old wine; an old house; an old country
  1. of or relating to advanced years or a long lifeold age
  2. (as collective noun; preceded by the)the old
  3. old and youngpeople of all ages
decrepit or senile
worn with age or useold clothes; an old car
  1. (postpositive)having lived or existed for a specified perioda 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 namethe 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 writtenOld English
(prenominal) familiar through long acquaintance or repetitionan old friend; an old excuse
practised; hardenedold in cunning
(prenominal often preceded by good) cherished; dear: used as a term of affection or familiaritygood old George
informal (with any of several nouns) used as a familiar form of address to a personold 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out-of-date; unfashionable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 originan old culture
(prenominal) former; previousmy old house was small
  1. (prenominal)established for a relatively long timean old member
  2. (in combination)old-established
sensible, wise, or matureold 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 reliefSee also youthful (def. 4), mature (def. 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
little old informal indicating affection, esp humorous affectionmy little old wife
the old one or the old gentleman informal a jocular name for Satan


an earlier or past time (esp in the phrase of old)in days of old
Derived Formsoldish, adjectiveoldness, noun

Word Origin for old

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


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

Word Origin and History for old


Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with 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.