old·​ster ˈōl(d)-stər How to pronounce oldster (audio)
: an old or elderly person

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Youngster has been used since the 16th century as a word for a young person with a lot of spunk. It has also long been used by maritime people as a word for a midshipman who has served less than four years. This use is connected with the Dutch word younker, which, like "youngster," refers to a young person as well as a young seaman. "Oldster" came about as a word used to differentiate the inexperienced midshipmen, or youngsters, from the experienced ones. To be exact, an oldster is a midshipman of four years' standing. Charles Dickens gets credit for the earliest known use of "oldster" in the general sense of "an old person." In his 1848 novel Dombey & Son he wrote, "Her eyes would play the Devil with the youngsters before long - 'and the oldsters too, Sir, if you come to that,' added the Major."

Examples of oldster in a Sentence

a family film that will appeal to youngsters and oldsters alike
Recent Examples on the Web Folks back in the day had Yoda as their feisty oldster and the kids now have Maz. 36. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 24 May 2023 The Duke is the true tale of an eccentric oldster who, in 1961, stole a Francisco Goya painting of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. Dallas News, 28 Apr. 2022 Stalking the herd is easier than stalking the old and wary lone bull, which has been expelled from the flock by the young bloods, or stalking an old bull with an askaria young bull that serves as stooge and bodyguard to the oldster. Robert Ruark, Field & Stream, 1 Dec. 2020 While Rivers was plotting and plodding his way to victory Sunday, another oldster threw five touchdown passes with his new team. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Oct. 2020 The radical difference between the median and the mean means that there are some very, very rich oldsters out there, but Bill Gates and Bruce Springsteen are eligible for Social Security and Medicare simply by virtue of their age. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 10 Feb. 2020 Hipsters in groups, oldsters in couples, crowds of post-church patrons on Sundays and, almost always, families with very cheerful children. Beth Segal, cleveland, 23 Jan. 2020 The old folks had Yoda as their feisty oldster and the kids now have Maz. 28. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 17 Dec. 2019 In a field of oldsters, the 37-year-old stands out. Nr Editors, National Review, 5 Dec. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'oldster.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1848, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of oldster was in 1848


Dictionary Entries Near oldster

Cite this Entry

“Oldster.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oldster. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


old·​ster ˈōl(d)-stər How to pronounce oldster (audio)
: an old or elderly person

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