Senior Idioms That Need Early Retirement

Over the hill

As if people need to fret about more as they age, those pesky, negative, “old-age” idioms used to describe those who are supposedly “over the hill” need to go. The over-the-hill concept comes from the idea that for your first 40 years, you’re climbing up the hill of life, and after that, it’s all downhill. However, in today’s world, the twilight years don’t have to be so dim! Take a closer look at why these cranky old idioms are ready for retirement.

WATCH: Can You Correct These Idioms?

Having a senior moment

People often say “I’m having a senior moment” when they forget their co-worker’s name or their keys, but why is temporary memory loss an attribute solely given to seniors? Everyone forgets things, so don’t fault seniors for all memory loss. Plus, reminder apps and social media have reduced the importance of physically remembering the small things. So, download Find your Phone and choose instead to forget the phrase “senior moment.”

Mutton dressed as lamb

The idiom “mutton dressed as lamb” is an offensive way of saying that a woman is dressed in a style that’s more suitable for a much younger woman. Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren are among the older women who have been described in this way. However, women are as empowered as ever and are standing up for their ability to choose, meaning they’ll dress in whatever way they feel. Style isn’t only for the young, it’s for the ages!

Robbing the cradle

“Robbing the cradle” refers to a man or woman who dates or marries someone much younger. At one time, this age difference may have led some to consider it an inappropriate relationship. But, now there is less confusion between people from different generations. And, it may even be a healthy option for older people to date those who inspire increased physical and mental activity. Maybe, it’s okay to rock the cradle a bit on this old saying.


No spring chicken

The idiom “no spring chicken” refers to a person who is old and, presumably, can’t do things that a younger person can. An actual spring chicken is between 2 to 10 months of age and has tender meat.

Oddly though, the term is often used to acknowledge an older person’s physical accomplishments: “She’s no spring chicken, but she wins tennis matches against her children.” Or, “He’s no spring chicken, but he runs errands for his father in between exercising and doing volunteer work.” So, instead of comparing our parents to fowl, let’s congratulate them on their tennis win or demand a rematch!

There is no fool like an old fool

Wisdom comes with age, right? Well, then an old fool is the most foolish of all.

Wrong! It’s presumptuous to say that only young people are allowed to make mistakes. All people should learn from experience to prevent repeating mistakes, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try something new and, perhaps, encounter a chance to fail at any age. Harold Macmillan, prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1957 to 1963, professed: “It has been said that there is no fool like an old fool, except a young fool. But the young fool has first to grow up to be an old fool to realize what a damn fool he was when he was a young fool.”

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

This idiom may be true only of dogs! Imagine trying, without much success, to teach your 11-year-old poodle to fetch your slippers as he sleeps cozily on the sofa.

But for people, the implication that those that are older cannot change their patterns, opinions, or behaviors is simply false. In fact, most older people take on new hobbies or passions during retirement, when they have more time to pursue things that interest them. And, many people want to contribute to their communities or to causes during this time as well, using the skills and experience they acquired during their youth.

Young at heart

If one is “young at heart,” they are said to have a youthful outlook in spite of age. But, why in spite of age? Why can only younger people like toys, or fairs, or amusement park rides? In fact, interests that at one time may have been considered for older people are now becoming more popular among those that are young, such as knitting or gardening. Etsy, anyone?

Act your age

You don’t have to be a senior to have this idiom thrown at you. Behaving in a manner appropriate to one’s age, and not acting like someone much younger, is a go-to insult. Often, kids say this to their parents when they see them engaging in horseplay or pranks. But, there’s no reason why kids should get to have all the fun.

Past your prime

Are you “past your prime?” This idiom is typically used to describe someone who is getting old with the assumption that they are no longer active or as good at something as they once were. Sure, abilities change with age, but that doesn’t mean older people are less adept and ready to sit back. Prime time may have passed, but that doesn’t mean the late show isn’t just as entertaining.

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Word of the Day

Can you guess the definition?

modus operandi

[ moh-duhs op-uh-ran-dee, -dahy ]

Can you guess the definition?

Word of the day
modus operandi

[ moh-duhs op-uh-ran-dee, -dahy ]