• definitions


  • adj.advanced in age
  • adj.obsolete, outdated
  • adj.traditional, long-established

Synonyms for old

  • aged
  • ancient
  • decrepit
  • elderly
  • gray
  • mature
  • tired
  • venerable
  • fossil
  • senior
  • versed
  • veteran
  • along in years
  • broken down
  • debilitated
  • enfeebled
  • exhausted
  • experienced
  • geriatric
  • getting on
  • gray-haired
  • grizzled
  • hoary
  • impaired
  • inactive
  • infirm
  • matured
  • not young
  • olden
  • oldish
  • over the hill
  • past one's prime
  • seasoned
  • senile
  • skilled
  • superannuated
  • wasted

Antonyms for old

  • new
  • young
  • youthful
  • green
  • inexperienced
  • contemporary
  • current
  • fresh
  • late
  • modern
  • recent
  • up-to-date
Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


The old man read it and for a time mused himself into seeming oblivion.

"That contains the spirit of all prayer," said the old philosopher.

You've been so devoted to her for three days that you've hardly bowed to old friends.

We met the son and the old man at one of their mines yesterday.

She was in a box with two men—one old and one young—and an older woman.

It was only the old man calling his son: David calling upon Absalom.

The West and the East were met in conflict,—the old and the new, the stale and the fresh.

The old man was peering at him sharply from under the grey protruding brows.

Percival had walked the floor in deep attention to the old man's words.

"I wonder what the old man will say when he sees me," he soliloquized.


Old English ald (Anglian), eald (West Saxon) "aged, antique, primeval; elder, experienced," from West Germanic *althas "grown up, adult" (cf. Old Frisian ald, Gothic alþeis, Dutch oud, German alt), originally a past participle stem of a verb meaning "grow, nourish" (cf. Gothic alan "to grow up," Old Norse ala "to nourish"), from PIE root *al- "to grow, nourish" (cf. Greek aldaino "make grow, strengthen," althein, althainein "to get well;" Latin alere "to feed, nourish, bring up, increase," altus "high," literally "grown tall," almus "nurturing, nourishing," alumnus "fosterling, step-child;" Old Irish alim "I nourish").

The usual PIE root is *sen- (see senior (adj.)). A few Indo-European languages distinguish words for "old" (vs. young) from words for "old" (vs. new), and some have separate words for aged persons as opposed to old things. Latin senex was used of aged living things, mostly persons, while vetus (literally "having many years") was used of inanimate things. Greek geraios was used mostly of humans; Greek palaios was used mostly of things, of persons only in a derogatory sense. Greek also had arkhaios, literally "belonging to the beginning," which parallels French ancien, used mostly with reference to things "of former times."

Old English also had fyrn "ancient," related to Old English feor "far, distant" (see far, and cf. Gothic fairneis, Old Norse forn "old, of old, of former times," Old High German firni "old, experienced"). The original Old English vowel is preserved in Scots auld, also in alderman. The original comparative and superlative (elder, eldest) are retained in particular uses.

First record of old-timer is from 1860. Expression old as the hills first recorded 1819. The good old days dates from 1828. Of old "of old times" is from late 14c. Old Glory for "the American flag" is first attested 1862. Old maid "woman who remains single well beyond the usual marrying age" is from 1520s; the card game is attested by that name from 1844. Old man "man who has lived long" is from c.1200; sense of "husband, father, boss" is from 1854, earlier (1830) it was military slang for "commanding officer;" old lady "wife, mother" is attested from c.1775. Old English is attested from 1701, originally as a type of font. Old boy originally was a former pupil of one of the English public schools. Old Testament attested from mid-14c.



adjectivevery old
  • aged
  • ancient
  • antediluvian
  • antiquated
  • antique
  • archaic
  • hoary
  • old
  • old-fashioned
  • old-time
  • olden
  • timeworn
  • venerable
  • vintage
  • well-established
Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.
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