\ ˈhȯr-ē How to pronounce hoary (audio) \
hoarier; hoariest

Definition of hoary

1 : gray or white with or as if with age bowed his hoary head
2 : extremely old : ancient hoary legends

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Other Words from hoary

hoariness noun

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."

Examples of hoary in a Sentence

a hoary tale of revenge He bowed his hoary head. a man hoary with age
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Recent Examples on the Web Coen writes one-acts in the hoary tradition of vignettes, sketches, curtain-raisers. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Ethan Coen lifts the curtain on ‘A Play Is a Poem,’ but there’s no rhyme, no reason," 23 Sep. 2019 One trembles, a little, at the thought, because anti-Semitism is an old, hoary creature that has survived many eras and found a parasitic usefulness in each. Talia Lavin, The New Republic, "To Dream of a Jewish President," 13 Feb. 2020 The story of the original London production has too many twists for even the hoariest backstage farce, and helps explain the fortuitous alchemy that made this thing work. Washington Post, "Why exactly did so many people like ‘Cats’ in the first place?," 20 Dec. 2019 The season opens with the faintest noise: A single French horn bleats a plaintive melody while a platoon of hoary men from the Royal Mail service, all wearing dark suits, shuffles into a stateroom in Buckingham Palace. Rachel Syme, The New Republic, "The Dramatic Detachment of The Crown," 12 Dec. 2019 When Seppala's wife dies shortly thereafter, her demise is signified in hoary fashion by a shot of a light bulb burning out. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Great Alaskan Race': Film Review," 24 Oct. 2019 Now, nearly 30 years after his death, the Nobel prize-winner has reached his hoary hand from the grave to strangle off opportunities for actors with ovaries at Oberlin College. Andrea Simakis, cleveland, "It’s 2019 and women still can’t wait for Godot, even in Oberlin: Andrea Simakis," 17 Nov. 2019 The scion of a prominent Hollywood family thus became a lanky, long-haired icon of countercultural rebellion, an exemplar of a newer, nervier Hollywood that would chase away the creaky, hoary spirit of the old. Los Angeles Times, "Appreciation: ‘Easy Rider’ made Peter Fonda an icon. ‘Ulee’s Gold’ made him an actor to remember," 17 Aug. 2019 The hoary bat, which migrates long distances south from Canada across the Midwest, is particularly susceptible to wind turbines in Illinois, Iowa and Indiana. Patrick M. O'connell, chicagotribune.com, "Bats live mostly out of sight and out of mind. But their falling numbers are a reason to look up and worry, scientists say.," 31 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hoary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hoary

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for hoary

Time Traveler

The first known use of hoary was in 1530

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Cite this Entry

“Hoary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hoary. Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for hoary


How to pronounce hoary (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hoary

: very old
: not interesting, funny, etc., because of being used too often : not fresh or original
literary : having gray or white hair


\ ˈhȯr-ē How to pronounce hoary (audio) \
hoarier; hoariest

Kids Definition of hoary

1 : very old a hoary tale
2 : having gray or white hair a hoary head

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More from Merriam-Webster on hoary

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hoary

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hoary

Spanish Central: Translation of hoary

Nglish: Translation of hoary for Spanish Speakers

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