- 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. not young
- 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
- 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 not new
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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 good old/poor old
- 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! 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
- 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.
- 2not feeling or showing any emotion More Like ThisSimiles 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/the 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/a March hare, (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.
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.’ (saying) (you cannot) successfully make people change their ideas, methods of work, etc., when they have had them for a long time