American English

Definition of old adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    (older, oldest)
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  1. 1be… years, months, etc. old of a particular age The baby was only a few hours old. In those days most people left school when they were only fifteen years old. At thirty years old, he was already earning $100,000 a year. two fourteen-year-old boys a class for five-year-olds (= children who are five) I didn't think she was old enough for the responsibility. How old is this building? He's the oldest player on the team. She's much older than me.
  2. not young
  3. 2having lived for a long time; no longer young to get/grow old The old man lay propped up on cushions. opposite young
  4. 3the old noun [plural] old people The old feel the cold more than the young.
  5. not new
  6. 4having existed or been used for a long time old habits He always gives the same old excuses. This couch is getting pretty old now. opposite new
  7. 5[only before noun] former; belonging to past times or a past time in your life Things were different in the old days. I went back to visit my old school. Old and Middle English
  8. 6[only before noun] used to refer to something that has been replaced by something else We had more room in our old house. opposite new
  9. 7[only before noun] known for a long time She's an old friend of mine (= I have known her for a long time). We're old rivals. compare recent
  10. good old/poor old
  11. 8[only before noun] (informal) used to show affection or a lack of respect Good oldDad! Our poor old dog is deaf and lame, but we love him so! I hate him, the silly old fool!
  12. Thesaurusoldelderly aged long-lived matureThese words all describe someone who or something that has lived for a long time or that usually lives for a long time.old having lived for a long time; no longer young:She's getting old—she'll be 75 next year.elderly (somewhat formal) used as a polite word for “old”:He is very busy caring for two elderly relatives.aged (formal) very old:Having aged relatives visiting you can be quite stressful.long-lived having a long life; lasting for a long time:Everyone in my family is exceptionally long-lived.mature used as a polite or humorous way of saying that somene is no longer young:clothes for the mature womanPatterns a(n) old/elderly/aged/long-lived/mature man/woman a(n) old/elderly/aged/mature gentleman/lady/coupleIdioms
    any old… (informal)
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    any item of the type mentioned (used when it is not important which particular item is chosen) Any old room would have been okay.
    any old how (informal)
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    in a careless or messy way The books were piled up all over the floor any old how.
    as old as the hills
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    very old; ancient
    be up to your (old) tricks (informal) (disapproving)
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    to be behaving in the same bad way as before Soon he had spent all the money and was up to his old tricks.
    a chip off the old block (informal)
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    a person who is very similar to their mother or father in the way that they look or behave
    for old times' sake
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    if you do something for old times' sake, you do it because it is connected with something good that happened to you in the past
    give somebody the (old) heave-ho (informal)
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    to dismiss someone from their job; to end a relationship with someone
    the good/bad old days
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    an earlier period of time in your life or in history that is seen as better/worse than the present That was in the bad old days of rampant inflation.
    a/the grand old age
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    a great age She finally learned to drive at the grand old age of 70.
    a/the grand old man (of something)
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    a man who is respected in a particular profession that he has been involved in for a long time James Lovelock, the grand old man of environmental science
    have a high old time (old-fashioned) (informal)
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    to enjoy yourself very much
    (there's) no fool like an old fool (saying)
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    an older person who behaves in a stupid way is worse than a younger person who does the same thing, because experience should have taught him or her not to do it
    of old (formal or literary)
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    in or since past times in days of old
    old enough to be somebody's father/mother (disapproving)
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    very much older than someone (especially used to suggest that a romantic relationship between the two people is not appropriate)
    old enough to know better
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    old enough to behave in a more sensible way than you actually did
    the (same) old story
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    what usually happens It's the same old story of a badly managed project with inadequate funding.
    an old wives' tale (disapproving)
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    an old idea or belief that has been proved not to be scientific
    a/the ripe old age (of…)
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    an age that is considered to be very old He lived to the ripe old age of 91.
    settle a score/an account (with somebody), settle an old score
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    to hurt or punish someone who has harmed or cheated you in the past “Who would do such a thing?” “Maybe someone with an old score to settle.”
    (you can't) teach an old dog new tricks (saying)
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    (you cannot) successfully make people change their ideas, methods of work, etc., when they have had them for a long time
Which Word?older / elder The usual comparative and superlative forms of old are older and oldest:My brother is older than me. The palace is the oldest building in the city.In literary or formal writing, elder and eldest may be used when comparing the ages of people, especially members of the same family. As adjectives, they are only used before a noun and you cannot say “elder than”:my older/elder sister the older/elder of their two children I’m the oldest/eldest in the family.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: old