Definition of old adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//əʊld//
    ; NAmE NAmE//oʊld//
    (older, oldest) Old age
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  1. 1  be… 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 £40 000 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 in the team. She's much older than me.
  2. not young
  3. 2  having lived for a long time; no longer young to get/grow old The old man lay propped up on cushions. She was a woman grown old before her time (= who looked older than she was). Synonymsoldelderly aged long-lived matureThese words all describe somebody/​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’s 75 next year.elderly (rather formal) used as a polite word for ‘old’:She is very busy caring for two elderly relatives.aged (formal) very old:Having aged relatives to stay in your house 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 somebody 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/​couple opposite young See related entries: Old age
  4. 3the old noun [plural] old people The old feel the cold more than the young. More Like This Plural adjectival nouns the blind, the deaf, the destitute, the dead, the dying, the elderly, the faithful, the homeless, the injured, the insane, the jobless, the middle aged, the old, the poor, the rich, the sick, the squeamish, the wealthy, the wicked, the wounded, the youngSee worksheet. Wordfindercare home, dementia, frail, geriatric, mobility, the old, pensioner, retire, sprightly, widow
  5. not new
  6. 4  having existed or been used for a long time old habits He always gives the same old excuses. This carpet's getting pretty old now. opposite new 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 British English you can also use elder and eldest when comparing the ages of people, especially members of the same family, although these words are not common in speech now. As adjectives they are only used before a noun and you cannot say ‘elder than’:my older/​elder sister the elder/​older of their two children I’m the eldest/​oldest in the family.
  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 old Dad! You poor old thing! I hate her, the silly old cow!
  12. More Like This Similes in idioms as bald as a coot, as blind as a bat, as bright as a button, as bold as brass, as busy as a bee, as clean as a whistle, as dead as a dodo, as deaf as a post, as dull as ditchwater, as fit as a fiddle, as flat as a pancake, as good as gold, as mad as a hatter, as miserable/​ugly as sin, as old as the hills, as pleased as Punch, as pretty as a picture, as regular as clockwork, as quick as a flash, as safe as houses, as sound as a bell, as steady as a rock, as thick as two short planks, as tough as old bootsSee worksheet. Word Origin Old English ald, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch oud and German alt, from an Indo-European root meaning ‘adult’, shared by Latin alere ‘nourish’.Extra examples Good old Dad! He was beginning to look old. He’s a silly old fool! He’s old enough by now to manage his own affairs. It’s a funny old world. It’s a very old tradition. It’s always the same old faces. It’s one of the oldest remaining parts of the church. It’s the world’s oldest surviving ship. She was fairly old when she got married. She’s a silly old cow! The way the young people rushed about made her feel old. These are some of the oldest known fossil remains. We’re all getting older. Why drink plain old water when you can have something better? You are as old as you feel. boring old history books I met up with some old school friends. It’s not easy to break old habits. She was a woman grown old before her time. She’s getting old—she’s 75 next year. These are some of the oldest trees in the world. Things were different in the old days. This carpet’s getting pretty old now.Idioms (informal) any item of the type mentioned (used when it is not important which particular item is chosen) Any old room would have done. (informal) in a careless or untidy way The books were piled up all over the floor any old how. very old; ancient
    be up to your (old) tricks
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    (informal, disapproving) to be behaving in the same bad way as before He had soon spent all the money and was up to his old tricks.
    a chip off the old block
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    (informal) a person who is very similar to their mother or father in the way that they look or behave
    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
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    (informal) to dismiss somebody from their job; to end a relationship with somebody
    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 (of…)
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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
    (old-fashioned, informal) to enjoy yourself very much (British English, informal) money that is earned very easily, for something that needs little effort The job only took about an hour—it was money for old rope.
    (there’s) no fool like an old fool
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    (saying) 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
    (formal or literary) in or since past times in days of old We know him of old (= we have known him for a long time).
    old boy, chap, man, etc.
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    (old-fashioned, British English, informal) used by older men of the middle and upper classes as a friendly way of addressing another man
    old enough to be somebody’s father/mother
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    (disapproving) very much older than somebody (especially used to suggest that a romantic or sexual 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
    (have) an old head on young shoulders
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    used to describe a young person who acts in a more sensible way than you would expect for a person of their age
    what usually happens It's the same old story of a badly managed project with inadequate funding. (disapproving) an old idea or belief that has been proved not to be scientific an old-fashioned person who likes to do things as they were done in the past see also old school
    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 somebody 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
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    (saying) (you cannot) successfully make people change their ideas, methods of work, etc., when they have had them for a long time
      (as) tough as old boots, (as) tough as nails(informal)
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    1. 1very strong and able to deal successfully with difficult conditions or situations She’s almost 90 but she’s still as tough as old boots.
    2. 2not feeling or showing any emotion
    3. Similes in idioms
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: old