Definition of old in English:

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Pronunciation: /əʊld/

adjective (older, oldest)

1Having lived for a long time; no longer young: the old man lay propped up on cushions See also elder1, eldest.
More example sentences
  • The majority of those left behind are too young, old or sick to travel far.
  • The setting for the film is a beautiful temple on a secluded lake where an old monk and his young charge live.
  • Now we want all residents, young and old, to select a project in their neighbourhood and make a local improvement.
elderly, mature, aged, older, senior, advanced in years, up in years, getting on;
in one's dotage, long in the tooth, grey, grey-haired, grey-bearded, grizzled, hoary;
past one's prime, not as young as one was, ancient, decrepit, doddering, doddery, not long for this world, ripe, senescent, senile, superannuated, venerable, septuagenarian, octogenarian, nonagenarian, centenarian
informal past it, over the hill, no spring chicken
rare longevous
1.1Made or built long ago: the old quarter of the town
More example sentences
  • It's built out of an old palace which has some of the most beautiful Buddhist art I've ever seen.
  • The new gravel road has been built parallel to the old tarmac Gun Park Road
  • Hidden in a narrow alley of the old quarter of Nice, one discovered it by chance or word-of-mouth.
historic, antiquated;
dilapidated, broken-down, run down, tumbledown, ramshackle, decaying, crumbling, disintegrating
1.2Possessed or used for a long time: he gave his old clothes away
More example sentences
  • A number of houses have been given a box to collect glass, cans and old clothes
  • All artwork created by the kids can be taken home that day and children are advised to wear old clothes.
  • I wear moonboots from the boutique; a hut where you drop off old clothes and pick up whatever you need.
worn, worn out, shabby, threadbare, holey, torn, frayed, patched, tattered, moth-eaten, ragged, yellowed;
old-fashioned, out of date, outmoded;
cast-off, hand-me-down;
French démodé
informal tatty
antique, veteran, vintage
1.3 informal, chiefly US Boring or tiresome, especially as a result of repetition or overfamiliarity: I wish she’d shut up—it’s getting old
More example sentences
  • There are a few humorous moments among the outtakes, though otherwise they get old pretty quickly.
  • The studios keep making this genre of film, and people still go and see them, but they're getting old fast.
  • Does the "nerd" thing ever get old?
2 [attributive] Belonging to the past; former: valuation under the old rating system was inexact
More example sentences
  • I got to know a little bit about it, at least the old Berlin of the past, through Benjamin's eyes.
  • One of its campaigns is an attack on asylum seekers, which recycles a old leaflet used in past BNP campaigns.
  • Today's feelings were sparked by me walking past my old primary school yesterday for the first time in ages.
2.1Used to refer to a thing which has been replaced by something similar: we moved back into our old house
More example sentences
  • Now Volvo has taken the concept even further with the launch of a stunning new V70 estate to replace the old model.
  • Before the wedding the kitchen was renovated and an electric stove was put in to replace the old coal range.
  • Fred was sitting close by, working on replacing old laces with fresh ones on greenhide pack bags.
former, previous, ex-, one-time, sometime, erstwhile, once, then, lapsed
formal quondam
2.2Dating from far back; long-established or known: we greeted each other like old friends I get sick of the same old routine
More example sentences
  • How many times do we need to see the same old arguments made and the same sources quoted?
  • These aren't the same old depressing allegations, no, this time the allegations are red hot!
  • You can resolve the same old problem with a new approach and make a breakthrough.
hackneyed, hack, banal, trite, overused, overworked, cut and dried, tired, worn out, time-worn, stale, stereotyped, clichéd, platitudinous, unoriginal, derivative, unimaginative, commonplace, common, pedestrian, prosaic, run-of-the-mill, stock, conventional;
out of date, outdated, old-fashioned, outmoded, archaic, obsolete, defunct, extinct, antiquated, antediluvian, superannuated, hoary;
French passé
informal old hat, out of the ark, corny, fuddy-duddy, played out, hacky
time-honoured, old-time, long-established, age-old, long-standing, long-lived, enduring, lasting;
familiar, customary, conventional, established, ritual, ritualistic, habitual, set, fixed, routine, usual, wonted, historic, folk, old-world, ancestral
2.3Denoting someone who formerly attended a specified school: an old Etonian
More example sentences
  • Maybe old Etonian James will bring his father round to seeing the value of theatre that is radical, critical, foul-mouthed and rude.
  • George Bullough, a 6ft 5in old Harrovian, had become the company's principal shareholder on the death in 1891 of his father.
  • Three Old Carthusians have won the Victoria Cross.
2.4(Of a form of a language) as used in former or earliest times.
Example sentences
  • This describes perfectly his career as a philologist and his passion for old languages.
  • There are 114 chapters in the Qur'an, which is written in the old Arabic dialect.
  • They are given in the book in the form of old Irish writing, new Irish writing and English.
3 [in combination] Of a specified age: he was fourteen years old a seven-month-old baby
3.1 [as noun, in combination] A person or animal of the age specified: a nineteen-year-old
4 [attributive] informal Used to express affection, familiarity, or contempt: good old Mum I didn’t like playing with silly old dolls
More example sentences
  • I really fancy my guests having a right good old toast to my memory.
  • Get rid of the new-labour new-tory dictatorships and let's have good old democracy back again!
  • So, for this event, I cooked from just regular vegetables and good old ingredients.



any old

Any item of a specified type (used to show that no particular individual is in question): any old room would have done
More example sentences
  • It's so simple that any old sailor and any old journalist can litigate it in less than two minutes.
  • This wasn't just any old fad, though, but one which has dominated western eating habits for almost the last eight years.
  • People are saying they don't want any old tat, they want to find quality and they want to find a bargain, that is special and unique.

any old how

In no particular order: they’ve dropped things just any old how
More example sentences
  • They were owned animals and presumably valuable livestock that just did not happen any old how but were deliberately bought and raised by a farmer.
  • Everything's just plonked down any old how, without any coherent alphabetical system to guide you round.
  • They drew up ten artists she liked, made a list of what they know about Diana, and then joined up the two lists any old how.

as old as the hills

Very old (often used in exaggerated statements): the technology we’re using is as old as the hills
More example sentences
  • What's going on is not exceptional… it's a story as old as the hills and a lot older than the Internet.
  • Some of the reasons for this are as old as the hills.
  • Feeling as old as the hills, I get my coat and leave.

be old enough to be someone's father (or mother)

informal Be much older than someone (used to suggest that a romantic or sexual relationship between the people concerned is inappropriate): he was furious with her for wasting herself on a man old enough to be her father
More example sentences
  • Cat calmly turned around and looked at the trucker, he was old enough to be her father and big enough to crush her with one fist.
  • It was another of John's meaningless sexual encounters, and this one with a woman old enough to be his mother.
  • You're darling, but you should be chatting up other 21-year-olds instead of someone who's old enough to be your mother.

for old times' sake

see sake1.

of old

1In or belonging to the past: he was more reticent than of old
More example sentences
  • Every Tuesday night, people ramble in for the music and chat and to see the cottage as in days of old.
  • In days of old, High Sheriffs had the authority to raise an army and even order executions of convicts.
  • After this year, the tatty old displays of old just won't be good enough.
2For a long time: they knew him of old

the old days

A period in the past, typically regarded as significantly better or worse than the present: it was easier in the old days we are less confident than in the good old days
More example sentences
  • In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.
  • It wasn't like this in the old days: they cared so much about the art they had riots and everything.
  • Molly had some great memories of the old days to recall and share with family and friends.

the Old Firm

informal (In Scotland) a name for Celtic and Rangers Football Clubs: [as modifier]: an Old Firm match

you can't put an old head on young shoulders

proverb You can’t expect a young person to have the wisdom or maturity associated with older people.



Pronunciation: /ˈəʊldɪʃ/
Example sentences
  • An oldish couple approached the crossing as I was aiming my camera.
  • You can see the Assistant website here, listen to some oldish but goodish demos here, and find out about the next gig here, too, when we know about it.
  • It's an oldish building, but it's nice, fairly weathertight, and fits my needs.


Example sentences
  • At 103 years of age, though, Mr. Murray described him as frail by oldness.
  • His opponents on the ultra-left demand we save our party from newness and demand a return to an oldness that never really existed anyway.
  • I just like the atmosphere inside churches, and the oldness of them.


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'.

  • This word shares an ancient root with Latin alere ‘to nourish’, which links it with alimony. The old boy network providing mutual assistance (and often career advancement) among people from the same social and educational background goes back to the 1950s. Members of such a group might well refer to ideas of group loyalty and tradition in terms of the old school tie—values seen as associated with wearing the tie of a particular public school. The first writers to use this phrase were those astute social commentators Rudyard Kipling and George Orwell in the 1930s. An old wives' tale is a widely held traditional belief now thought to be unscientific or incorrect. This phrase, with its earlier variant an old wives' fable, has been part of the language since the 16th century. It is first found in William Tyndale's translation of the Bible, where the faithful are instructed to ‘cast away’ such stories. Some behaviour becomes inappropriate as you get older, and there is a risk for some of being considered a dirty old man. First recorded in the 1930s, the phrase was Harold Steptoe's familiar rebuke to his father in the TV comedy Steptoe and Son (1962–74).

Words that rhyme with old

behold, bold, cold, enfold, fold, foretold, gold, hold, mould (US mold), outsold, scold, self-controlled, sold, told, uncontrolled, undersold, unpolled, uphold, withhold, wold

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: old

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