: gray or white with or as if with age
: extremely old : ancient
"In those days a multitude of delicate flowers and sprays of wild herbage had found a friendly soil in the hoary crevices...." (Henry James, Roderick Hudson)
Did You Know?
"How to save the old that's worth saving ... is one of our greatest problems." British novelist John Galsworthy knew the value of preserving the past -- and he would likely have counted "hoary" among those old things worth saving. The word is old indeed; it traces to an Old English adjective that appeared in Beowulf. That "hoary" ancestor evolved into "hoar," a synonym of "ancient" that has been part of our language since before the 12th century. "Hoary" developed from "hoar" more than 475 years ago, and since then it has been used for anything that is old or that has the whitened look of age (from the hoary bat to the hoary willow). Venerable "hoar" also remains as a synonym of "hoary" and as a component of compounds such as "hoarfrost."
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