\ ˈōld ; for sense 9 usually ˈōl \

Definition of old 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : dating from the remote past : ancient old traditions

b : persisting from an earlier time an old ailment they brought up the same old argument

c : of long standing an old friend

2a : distinguished from an object of the same kind by being of an earlier date many still used the old name

b capitalized : belonging to an early period in the development of a language or literature Old Persian

3 : having existed for a specified period of time a child three years old

4 : of, relating to, or originating in a past era old chronicles record the event

5a : advanced in years or age an old person

b : showing the characteristics of age looked old at 20

6 : experienced an old trooper speaking of the last war

7 : former his old students

8a : showing the effects of time or use : worn, aged old shoes

b : no longer in use : discarded old rags

c : of a grayish or dusty color old mauve

d : tiresome gets old fast

9a : long familiar same old story good old Joe

b used as an intensive a high old time

c used to express an attitude of affection or amusement a big old dogflex the old bicepsany old time



Definition of old (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one of a specified age usually used in combination a 3-year-old

2 : old or earlier time used in the phrase of old the cavalry of old

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Choose the Right Synonym for old


old, ancient, venerable, antique, antiquated, archaic, obsolete mean having come into existence or use in the more or less distant past. old may apply to either actual or merely relative length of existence. old houses an old sweater of mine ancient applies to occurrence, existence, or use in or survival from the distant past. ancient accounts of dragons venerable stresses the impressiveness and dignity of great age. the family's venerable patriarch antique applies to what has come down from a former or ancient time. collected antique Chippendale furniture antiquated implies being discredited or outmoded or otherwise inappropriate to the present time. antiquated teaching methods archaic implies having the character or characteristics of a much earlier time. the play used archaic language to convey a sense of period obsolete may apply to something regarded as no longer acceptable or useful even though it is still in existence. a computer that makes earlier models obsolete

Examples of old in a Sentence


He's an old man now. We rented an old black-and-white movie. There's an old saying that good fences make good neighbors. a new approach to an old problem She wore a T-shirt and an old pair of jeans. I wish you would stop wearing that dirty old hat! The hotel was old and dingy. the oldest known civilization in the region The house we live in is 50 years old. We went back to visit our old neighborhood.


Young and old alike will enjoy the movie.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The hormone, 17α-methyltestosterone (MT), is sometimes prescribed for men with testosterone deficiencies and older women with breast cancer. Mitch Leslie, Science | AAAS, "Something is changing the sex of Costa Rican crocodiles," 30 Aug. 2017 One button slings light love taps while another lays out a big smack, with a block button rounding out a trio practically as old as video games. Steven Strom, Ars Technica, "Absolver hides its depth and beauty amid obtuse design," 29 Aug. 2017 Baffert’s 3-year-old colt West Coast picked up the 3 1/4-length victory over Gunnevera at the 1 1/4-mile dirt course. Staff Reports, La Cañada Valley Sun, "Sports Briefs: Bergman called up by Seattle," 29 Aug. 2017 Sixty-five-year-old Virdell King pleaded guilty Tuesday to one felony count of conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act. Detroit Free Press, "Former UAW official Virdell King pleads guilty in Fiat Chrysler case," 29 Aug. 2017 But Moholo-Moholo knows his old friends can never be replaced. John Corbett, Chicago Reader, "South African drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo fans the spark of resistance into the flame of liberated jazz," 29 Aug. 2017 Johnny Depp is saying goodbye to his old Kentucky home. Megan Stein, PEOPLE.com, "Johnny Depp’s $3 Million Kentucky Horse Farm Will Be Sold at Auction," 29 Aug. 2017 For example, radiographic images show old and new fractures, which suggest a pattern of multiple traumatic events. Barbara Sadick, Kaiser Health News, "Elder Abuse: ERs Learn How To Protect A Vulnerable Population," 28 Aug. 2017 Watching Emily Thorne scam every rich person in the Hamptons never gets old. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Watch This: 14 Movies and TV Shows You Absolutely Can't Miss This Week," 27 Aug. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In the federal case, the apparent patsy picked to take the rap for four unsolved 2013 burglaries was a black Haitian American 16-year-old who lived with his family in a duplex on Northwest 12th Court. Charles Rabin, Jay Weaver And David Ovalle, miamiherald, "The chief wanted perfect stats, so cops were told to pin crimes on blacks, probe found," 12 July 2018 If passed, the bill would enfranchise up to 10,600 16- and 17-year-olds, according to Census Bureau data. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Five times Anthony Kennedy was the fifth vote shows the significance of his retirement," 28 June 2018 But as the field of eight 3-year-olds and above turned into the homestretch, Uncle Mojo separated with ease. baltimoresun.com, "Preakness 2018: Race-by-race results," 19 May 2018 Texas ranked tenth in the nation for enrolling nearly 50 percent of its 4-year-old students in pre-K. That ranking fell to thirteenth in the nation for enrolling less than 10 percent of pre-K 3-year-olds. Andrea Zelinski, Houston Chronicle, "Texas making strides, but still needs improvements in early education, report finds," 18 Apr. 2018 New population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau today show Bexar County’s total population of 65- to 74-year-olds surged by more than 41,000 between July 2010 and July 2017. Peggy O’hare, San Antonio Express-News, "Bexar County remains big draw for seniors," 20 June 2018 In many states, 16- and 17-year-olds can get married with approval from a judge or their parents. USA TODAY, "Mother convicted in landmark British case over forced marriage," 23 May 2018 The fact that 15-year-olds curse and do all kinds of other stuff shouldn’t really be a surprise. John Adamian, courant.com, "Bhad Bhabie Coming To Toad's Place," 5 May 2018 The class of 10- and 11-year-olds were assembled in the basement kitchen there, eyeing up the ingredients for what they were being told would produce a simpler, cheaper, and healthier version of fried chicken. Maureen Fitzgerald, Philly.com, "Learning to appreciate a simple, healthy alternative to fried chicken," 14 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'old.' 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 old


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for old


Middle English, from Old English eald; akin to Old High German alt old, Latin alere to nourish, alescere to grow, altus high, deep


see old entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near old





old Adam

old age


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Time Traveler for old

The first known use of old was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for old



English Language Learners Definition of old

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having lived for many years : not young

—used to talk about or ask about a person's age

: having a specified age



English Language Learners Definition of old (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who has a specified age

old : old people


\ ˈōld \
older; oldest

Kids Definition of old

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having lived a long time an old dog

2 : showing the effects of time or use Grandpa wore an old coat.

3 : having existed for a specified length of time My brother is three years old.

4 : dating from the distant past : ancient an old custom

5 : having lasted or been such for a long time She's an old friend of mine.

6 : former My old neighbors came to visit.



Kids Definition of old (Entry 2 of 2)

: a distant or earlier time Life was tough in days of old.

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Comments on old

What made you want to look up old? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make amends

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