se·​nile | \ ˈsē-ˌnī(-ə)l 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 geological cycle of erosion

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Other Words from senile

senilely \ ˈsē-​ˌnī(-​ə)l-​lē How to pronounce senilely (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 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 North Korea responded angrily on Thursday by threatening to call Trump a senile dotard. Simon Denyer, Washington Post, "North Korea responds to Trump’s ‘Rocket Man’ comment with ‘senile dotard’ jibe," 5 Dec. 2019 The chic but clammy Manhattan Theater Club production, directed by Jonathan Kent, features the formidable Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins as husband and wife, either or both of whom may be senile or dead. New York Times, "Review: In ‘The Height of the Storm,’ Two Stars and an Enigma," 24 Sep. 2019 Their simple, repetitive language is translated literally in the subtitles making them seem very primitive and perhaps a little senile. Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Last Headhunters of the Nagas': Film Review | Mumbai 2019," 1 Nov. 2019 The cause was senile degeneration of the brain, said a son, Peter Siebentritt. Benjamin Gordon, Washington Post, "Community deaths," 25 Aug. 2019 At the end of the episode, Mrs. Walker finally tells her racist, senile father that Bryce is dead. Kaitlin Reilly,, "R29 Binge Club: 13 Reasons Why Season 3 Recap," 24 Aug. 2019 In the present time, Mrs. Walker finally tells her senile father that his grandson is dead. Sydney Bucksbaum,, "13 Reasons Why season 3 binge recap," 23 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for senile

Time Traveler

The first known use of senile was in 1661

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Statistics for senile

Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Senile.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for senile


How to pronounce senile (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on senile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for senile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with senile

Spanish Central: Translation of senile

Nglish: Translation of senile for Spanish Speakers

Comments on senile

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to express in a more acceptable way

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