se·​nile | \ˈsē-ˌnī(-ə)l also ˈse- \

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 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

The old senile Brits and the uneducated young were those who voted to leave, and those who were intelligent voted to remain. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, "If America Is Divided, So Is Europe," 6 July 2018 The cause was senile degeneration of the brain, said a daughter, Katherine Shorey Herold. Washington Post, "Lloyd Hyde real estate developer," 16 Apr. 2018 While struggling to find the right English, Conte described the 54-year-old as 'demenza senile', which translates to senile dementia., "Chelsea Boss Antonio Conte Calls Mourinho and Wenger 'Old' in Incredible Rant Ahead of FA Cup Tie," 6 Jan. 2018 The senile Soviet leaders who lined up on the top of the mausoleum were the butt of jokes. The Economist, "The legacy of the Russian revolution can still be felt today," 20 Dec. 2017 And that claim involved an old, half-senile legislative back-bencher. Joseph Gerth, The Courier-Journal, "Jeff Hoover, how much did those sexual harassment claims cost and who’s paying? | Gerth," 3 Nov. 2017 The song paints the president as a senile granny trying to make it into heaven. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, "Eminem, Pearl Jam, Prince, Lupe Fiasco & More: The 17 Best Presidential Takedown Songs," 13 Oct. 2017 Also, our senile president should be the one suspended from twitter. Karen Mizoguchi,, "Tweet Queen Chrissy Teigen & More Stars Vow to Boycott Twitter After Rose McGowan’s Temporary Suspension," 13 Oct. 2017 Dotard an old person, especially one who has become weak or senile. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "5 Times Donald Trump Proved to Be a Dotard," 22 Sep. 2017

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

The first known use of senile was in 1661

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on senile

See words that rhyme with senile

Spanish Central: Translation of senile

Nglish: Translation of senile for Spanish Speakers

Comments on senile

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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