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Word of the Day
Sunday, December 03, 2017

Definitions for gerontocracy

  1. a state or government in which old people rule.
  2. government by a council of elders.
  3. a governing body consisting of old people.

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Citations for gerontocracy
The French Restoration was a gerontocracy--the two kings of the era, Louis XVIII and Charles X, were both brothers of Louis XVI, guillotined in 1793, and old men by the time they ascended to the throne--out of touch with the youth of the country. Peter Brooks, "Introduction," The Human Comedy: Selected Stories by Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), translated by Linda Asher, Carol Cosman, and Jordan M. Stump, 2014
Because poorer countries would be less likely to be dominated by a gerontocracy, tomorrow's divide between old and young would mirror the contemporary division between rich northern nations and their poorer southern neighbors. Charles C. Mann, "The Coming Death Shortage," The Atlantic, May 2005
Origin of gerontocracy
The English noun gerontocracy is composed of two relatively common Greek elements: geront- (“old age”) and the combining form -cracy (from the Greek combining form -kratia “rule, government”). Geront- is the stem of the noun gérōn “old, old man, elder” and derives from the Proto-Indo-European root gerǝ- “to become old.” In Germanic the root appears in the noun karlaz “man,” which further develops into Old Norse karl “man, old man, married man,” Old English ceorl “man, freeman of the lowest class” (whence Modern English “churl”), and German Kerl “man, fellow, guy.” The Greek combining form -kratia is a derivative of krátos “strength, might,” from the Proto-Indo-European root ker-, kar- “hard,” source of Germanic (English) “hard.” Gerontocracy entered English in the 19th century.