silver fox


noun

a red fox in the color phase in which the fur is black with silver-gray ends on the longer hairs.

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Origin of silver fox

First recorded in 1760–70
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

ABOUT THIS WORD

What else does silver fox mean?

A silver fox is a slang term for an older man, generally with gray or graying hair, who is considered attractive, charming, and classy.

How is term pronounced?

[ sil-ver foks ]

Where does silver fox come from?

While silver fox has been a name of a species of actual vulpines since the late 1700s, describing gray-haired men as silver foxes dates back to at least the 1920s, specifically to the career of baseball player Jessee Petty, who was nicknamed the Silver Fox because of his prematurely white hair and lively personality. Many other early graying male celebrities took the moniker of silver fox after that, including country singer Charlie Rich.

In early usage, a silver fox was young, attractive, and prematurely gray. And, the term silver fox was specifically associated with attractiveness and confidence in an older man since at least since the 1980s, playing on fox as slang for an attractive person (said of women by the early 1960s, extended to men later that decade).

In contemporary usage, a silver fox doesn’t have to have gray hair, though he usually does. The age difference between the older man and the younger person attracted to him is what matters more.

How is silver fox used in real life?

News and entertainment outlets regularly publish lists of the top silver foxes of the moment. The men who end up on these lists are (often white) models, actors, or TV personalities such as George Clooney, Anderson Cooper, and Steve Carell. Here, silver fox suggests the men have become sexier with age and exude a kind of old-school class and charm.

While silver fox is most often used to describe attractive, older men, it can also be used to refer to older women. Attractive older women, especially those who have refused to dye their naturally graying hair, are sometimes called silver vixen, such as Helen Mirren or Jamie Lee Curtis.

Silverfox (one word) is also the name of a Marvel Comics Universe character, a mutant from the X-Men series who can appear younger than she is and can hypnotize anyone she touches.

More examples of silver fox:

“Should the Silver Fox from @MakingAMurderer, Aaron Keller, be the next Bachelor? … “
—@itsAdam, January 2016

“In terms of red-carpet dressing for men, the grey beard is a game-changer. Grey stubble signifies that distinguished silver-fox thing—ground which José Mourinho and George Clooney keep a tight grasp on.”
—Imogen Fox, The Guardian, May 2015

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

Example sentences from the Web for silver fox

British Dictionary definitions for silver fox

silver fox

noun

an American red fox in a colour phase in which the fur is black with long silver-tipped hairs
the valuable fur or pelt of this animal
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