Origin of senior

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin, equivalent to sen(ex) old, old man + -ior comparative adj. suffix Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for senior

Contemporary Examples of senior

Historical Examples of senior

  • Two or three probationers had been sent to help cleanup, and a senior nurse.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • Even Miss Grange, now reduced to second place, remonstrated with her senior.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • The senior partner was regarding the rebel with grave-eyed reproach.

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • Also Ben Lockwood attended—Blinky's first cousin and senior.

    The Fortune Hunter

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • I should like to have polished off that Pierce senior as he deserves.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

British Dictionary definitions for senior



higher in rank or length of service
older in yearssenior citizens
of or relating to adulthood, maturity, or old agesenior privileges
  1. of, relating to, or designating more advanced or older pupils
  2. of or relating to a secondary school
US of, relating to, or designating students in the fourth and final year at college


a senior person
an elderly person
  1. a senior pupil, student, etc
  2. a fellow of senior rank in an English university

Word Origin for senior

C14: from Latin: older, from senex old



mainly US being the older: used to distinguish the father from the son with the same first name or namesCharles Parker, Senior Abbreviation: Sr, Sen
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 senior

late 13c., from Latin senior "older," comparative of senex (genitive senis) "old," from PIE root *sen- "old" (see senile). Original use in English was as an addition to a personal name indicating "the father" when father and son had the same name; meaning "higher in rank, longer in service" first recorded 1510s.

The Latin word yielded titles of respect in many languages, cf. French sire, Spanish señor, Portuguese senhor, Italian signor. Senior citizen first recorded 1938, American English.


mid-14c., "person of authority;" late 14c., "person older than another," from senior (adj.). Sense of "fourth-year student" is from 1741, from earlier general sense of "advanced student" (1610s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper