se·​nile | \ ˈsē-ˌnī(-ə)l How to pronounce senile (audio) also ˈse- How to pronounce senile (audio) \

Definition of senile

1 : of, relating to, exhibiting, or characteristic of old age senile weakness especially : exhibiting a loss of cognitive abilities (such as memory) associated with old age
2 : approaching the end of a geologic cycle of erosion

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Other Words from senile

senilely \ ˈsē-​ˌnī(-​ə)l-​lē How to pronounce senile (audio) also  ˈse-​ \ adverb

Examples of senile in a Sentence

Every time I got a government job, I always felt obligated to tell the authorities that I had this mother who had probably been a Communist. It was an annoying piece of baggage. Then eventually she became senile and forgot about politics and actually became very benign. — Larissa MacFarquhar, New Yorker, 10 Dec. 2001 There appears to be little common ground between those who see the paintings [Willem de Kooning's late works] in question as a sublime achievement, a late style comparable to the cut-paper masterpieces of the aging Matisse, and those who describe them as the senile doodlings of a once great artist whose reputation is being damaged for the sake of commercial exploitation. — Calvin Tomkins, New Yorker, 10 Feb. 1997 Franco himself, during the final months of his life, had become a senile, quaking octogenarian. — John A. Crow, Spain: The Root and the Flower, (1963) 1985 a senile man in his eighties Her mother is becoming senile.
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Recent Examples on the Web As a woman struggling to communicate with her senile father, Colman wears exasperation and sorrow on her face without losing her composure. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, "Oscars Spotlight: The Unusually Wide-Open Actress Races," 15 Apr. 2021 Trump and his campaign have moved heaven and earth to paint Biden as weak or senile or somehow incapable of stringing together coherent sentences. Rex Huppke,, "Column: Biden closing campaign on note of unity, while Trump sticks with sound and fury, signifying hate," 28 Oct. 2020 But throughout the hour, Hannity and his guests continued to depict Biden as a senile old man — a notion that has been promoted by the conservative network for weeks — who lost the face-off. Oliver Darcy, CNN, "Fox News airs pro-Trump propaganda after first debate," 30 Sep. 2020 Republicans largely ignored the pandemic while attacking Joe Biden as a senile lifetime politician controlled by his party's far-left wing and incapable of protecting suburban voters from mobs of protesters. Steve Peoples, Star Tribune, "Uncertainty dominates presidential campaign's final stretch," 30 Aug. 2020 Pirro may have yada yada-ed the conspiracy, but the point is clear: The Democratic Party and their enablers are conspiring to replace the senile Biden with the sinister Harris. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Fox News Is Leading the Attack on Kamala Harris," 13 Aug. 2020 Only art is capable of dismantling the repressive effects of a senile social system that continues to totter along the deathline [sic]. Megan O’grady, New York Times, "A Sculptor of the Female Gaze," 13 Feb. 2020 Gloria Reyes, who dated Jose Elias, said that the Sepulveda brothers’ father has been senile and bedridden for years and could not have knowingly signed the affidavit. Tim Pearce, Washington Examiner, "Brother of Democratic state senator accuses him of child abuse and drug dealing," 13 Jan. 2020 Around the same time, Facebook refused to take down a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was slowed down, making Pelosi appear drunk or senile. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Facebook is banning (most) deepfakes," 7 Jan. 2020

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

1661, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for senile

Latin senilis, from sen-, senex old, old man

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Statistics for senile

Last Updated

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Senile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for senile



English Language Learners Definition of senile

: showing a loss of mental ability (such as memory) in old age


se·​nile | \ ˈsēn-ˌīl also ˈsen- \

Medical Definition of senile

1 : of, relating to, exhibiting, or characteristic of old age senile weakness especially : exhibiting a loss of cognitive abilities (as memory) associated with old age
2 : being a cell that cannot undergo mitosis and is in the stage of declining functional capacities prior to the time of death senile red blood cells

More from Merriam-Webster on senile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for senile

Nglish: Translation of senile for Spanish Speakers

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