\ 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 As for the hoary assumption that princes of the Church whisper secrets to one another in a dead language, above our heads, please. Nicholas Frankovich, National Review, "Tradition without Traditionalism: Reginald Foster Requiescat in Pace," 2 Jan. 2021 Individual hoary redpolls were found among increasingly large common redpoll flocks in Sandwich and Wellfleet, which have numbered from 90-200. BostonGlobe.com, "Bird sightings on Cape Cod," 20 Jan. 2021 The cold, hoary legacy of polar exploration depends on outsize characters—and good books. Michael O’donnell, WSJ, "‘Icebound’ Review: Into the Void," 24 Dec. 2020 Stiteler also suggests the Sax-Zim Bog between Duluth and Hibbing, a national birding destination and a winter habitat for birds like the great gray owl, the pine grosbeak and the hoary redpoll. Richard Chin, Star Tribune, "Our suggestions on how to celebrate winter solstice outdoors," 20 Dec. 2020 Despite the emergence of robust new approaches to deficit spending, hoary notions about the issue continue to linger in Washington, D.C., like a stale smell. Robert Hockett, The New Republic, "Why Joe Biden Can Stop Worrying and Start Spending Like Crazy," 1 Dec. 2020 In some places, Slater offers correctives to hoary old tales that confuse observers of the Arab–Israeli conflict. Mike Watson, National Review, "Israel and Her Critics," 3 Dec. 2020 These are the things that escape politics, or hoary clashes of countercultural values. John Semley, The New Republic, "How Weird Was Frank Zappa?," 26 Nov. 2020 This hoary cold war cliché conjures a fantastic specter of relentless Russian expansion up to and beyond our very borders—the familiar projection of America’s aggressive policies onto a demonic Other. Jackson Lears, The New York Review of Books, "Don’t Wish for a Restoration," 3 Nov. 2020

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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Statistics for hoary

Last Updated

9 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hoary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hoary. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for hoary



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

More from Merriam-Webster on hoary

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hoary

Nglish: Translation of hoary for Spanish Speakers

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