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old definition


This page has 28 definitions of old with English translations in 4 languages. Old is an adjective, noun and verb. Examples of how to use old in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

See also: öld, ǫld, øld, 'old, old-, and OLD

English old definition

Alternative forms


From Middle English olde, ald, from Old English ald, eald (old, aged, ancient, antique, primeval), from Proto-West Germanic *ald, from Proto-Germanic *aldaz (grown-up), originally a participle form, from Proto-Indo-European *h₂eltós (grown, tall, big).

Cognate with Scots auld (old), North Frisian ool, ual, uul (old), Saterland Frisian oold (old), West Frisian âld (old), Dutch oud (old), Low German old (old), German alt (old), Swedish äldre (older, elder), Icelandic eldri (older, elder), Latin altus (high, tall, grown big, lofty). Related to eld.



old (comparative older or elder, superlative (US, dialectal) oldermost or oldest or eldest)

  1. Of an object, concept, relationship, etc., having existed for a relatively long period of time.
    an old abandoned building
    an old friend
    • 1879, R[ichard] J[efferies], chapter 1, in The Amateur Poacher, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., [], →OCLC:
      They burned the old gun that used to stand in the dark corner up in the garret, close to the stuffed fox that always grinned so fiercely. Perhaps the reason why he seemed in such a ghastly rage was that he did not come by his death fairly. Otherwise his pelt would not have been so perfect. And why else was he put away up there out of sight?—and so magnificent a brush as he had too.
    1. Of a living being, having lived for most of the expected years.
      a wrinkled old man
    2. Of a perishable item, having existed for most of, or more than, its shelf life.
      an old loaf of bread
    3. Of a species or language, belonging to a lineage that is distantly related others
      the ginkgo is one of the oldest living trees
      Basque is the oldest language in Europe
  2. Having been used and thus no longer new or unused.
    I find that an old toothbrush is good to clean the keyboard with.
  3. Having existed or lived for the specified time.
    How old are they? She’s five years old and he's seven. We also have a young teen and a two-year-old child.
    My great-grandfather lived to be a hundred and one years old.
  4. (heading) Of an earlier time.
    1. Former, previous.
      My new car is not as good as my old one.  a school reunion for Old Etonians
      • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter VIII, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., →OCLC:
        The humor of my proposition appealed more strongly to Miss Trevor than I had looked for, and from that time forward she became her old self again; for, even after she had conquered her love for the Celebrity, the mortification of having been jilted by him remained.
      • 1994, Michael Grumley, Life Drawing:
        But over my old life, a new life had formed.
    2. That is no longer in existence.
      The footpath follows the route of an old railway line.
    3. Obsolete; out-of-date.
      That is the old way of doing things; now we do it this way.
    4. Familiar.
      • 1991, Stephen Fry, chapter III, in The Liar, London: William Heinemann, →ISBN, page 26:
        Adrian thought it worth while to try out his new slang. ‘I say, you fellows, here's a rum go. Old Biffo was jolly odd this morning. He gave me a lot of pi-jaw about slacking and then invited me to tea. No rotting! He did really.’
      When he got drunk and quarrelsome they just gave him the old heave-ho.
    5. (UK) Being a graduate or alumnus of a school, especially a public school.
  5. Tiresome after prolonged repetition.
    • 1995, MacUser, volume 11, MacUser Publications, page 147:
      Rik: But even great shtick can get old real fast: the dreaded Saturday Night Live syndrome.
      Jim: Randomness can help - many Living Books have characters that do different things each time you click on them.
    • 2000, Charles A. Siringo, A Texas Cowboy: or, Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony, Penguin, →ISBN, page 100:
      John and I built a small stone house on the head of “Bonetta” Canyon and had a hog killing time all by ourselves. Hunting was our delight at first, until it became old.
    • 2008, Homer L. Hall, Logan H. Aimone, High School Journalism, The Rosen Publishing Group, →ISBN, page 171:
      The songs start to get old real fast, and it's easy to get bored after the third song.
    • 2012, Blossom, From Under a Bridge Ii, Xlibris Corporation, →ISBN, page 40:
      It was the same old thing every week, working and drinking, working and drinking. It became old and I got really sick of it.
    Your constant pestering is getting old.
  6. Said of subdued colors, particularly reds, pinks and oranges, as if they had faded over time.
    Synonym: antique
  7. A grammatical intensifier, often used in describing something positive, and combined with another adjective.
    We're having a good old time.
    My next car will be a big old SUV.
    My wife makes the best little old apple pie in Texas.
    any old
  8. (informal, of a person) Indicating affection.
  9. (obsolete) Excessive, abundant.



Derived terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.


old (plural olds)

  1. (with the, invariable plural only) People who are old; old beings; the older generation, taken as a group.
    A civilised society should always look after the old in the community.
  2. (slang) A person older than oneself, especially an adult in relation to a teenager.
  3. (slang, most often plural) One's parents.
    I had to sneak out to meet my girlfriend and tell the olds I was going to the library.
  4. (Australia, uncountable) A typically dark-coloured lager brewed by the traditional top-fermentation method.
    • 2010, Peter Corris, Torn Apart, Allen and Unwin, page 117:
      We crossed to the pub on the corner of Carlisle Street and I ordered two schooners of old for him and one of light for me.


Danish old definition


Etymology 1

From Old Norse ǫld, from Proto-Germanic *aldiz, cognate with Gothic 𐌰𐌻𐌳𐍃 (alds).


old c (singular definite olden, not used in plural form)

  1. (archaic) period, age, generation
    • 1813, N.F.S. Grundtvig, “Kristjan den sjette”, in Poetiske Skrifter, volume 3, page 306:
      Hvad der bygtes i din Old, Bygtes som paa Grus og Sand.
      What was built in your age was built as if on gravel and sand.
    • 1805, Adam Oehleschläger, Isefjorden[1]:
      Hvor de tykke Piller favne / Støvet af de store Navne, / Som ei døer, ei blier forgiettet, / Naar min Old er længst udslettet.
      Where the massive columns embrace the dust of the great names that will not die, will not be forgotten when my generation has been obliterated for a long time.
  2. (archaic, rare) antiquity
    • 1891, Holger Drachmann, Vildt og tæmmet, section 299:
      Andenlæreren var en Sværmer, og en fanatisk Sværmer, for den nordiske Old.
      The teaching assistant was an enthusiast, a fanatic enthusiast, for the Nordic Antiquity.
Derived terms


Etymology 2

Clipping of oldtidskundskab.


old c (uninflected)

  1. Classical Civilization (a course in secondary school)
    Synonym: oldtidskundskab
Derived terms
  • oldlærer


German Low German old definition

Alternative forms


From Middle Low German ôlt. The A became an O through the effect of the velarised L in the same manner as in Dutch oud.

Cognate with English old, Dutch oud, German alt, West Frisian âld.



old (comparative öller, superlative öllst)

  1. old