senile

adjective

se·​nile ˈsē-ˌnī(-ə)l How to pronounce senile (audio)
also
ˈse- How to pronounce senile (audio)
1
: of, relating to, exhibiting, or characteristic of old age
senile osteoporosis
especially, sometimes disparaging + offensive : exhibiting a decline of cognitive abilities (such as memory) associated with old age

Note: Due to its negative connotations, use of senile relating to cognitive decline is now typically avoided in medical contexts and may be considered offensive in general contexts.

2
: approaching the end of a geologic cycle of erosion
Located in a region known for its erosional history by river Ganga and Yamuna, its senile topography yields pulses, cereals and millets, oilseeds and fodder crops.Shruthi Mohan
senilely
ˈsē-ˌnī(-ə)l-lē How to pronounce senile (audio)
 also  ˈse-
adverb

Examples of senile in a Sentence

a senile man in his eighties Her mother is becoming senile.
Recent Examples on the Web Back on the domestic front, Jeanine has reason to believe that her husband, Paul (Mark O’Brien), is having an affair with her senile mother’s caregiver. Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Sep. 2023 In one story, Earn’s seemingly routine trip to church with Gloria, Jeanie, and his senile grandfather (Bob Banks) goes pear-shaped when Gloria abruptly drives off with her dad, leaving behind Earn and a bewildered Jeanie, who has recently been their father’s caretaker. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 29 Sep. 2022 Why do humans develop senile ovaries by age 30? Sandee Lamotte, CNN, 20 Aug. 2022 The sky broken by the bare oaks and elms of New Prospect was full of moist promise, a pair of frontal systems grayly colluding to deliver a white Christmas, when Russ Hildebrandt made his morning rounds among the homes of bedridden and senile parishioners in his Plymouth Fury wagon. Wyatt Mason, WSJ, 6 Oct. 2021 Don Quixote himself is too often a senile dodderer; Daniel Rubin was creaky in body but youthfully quixotic in spirit. Jeffrey Gantz, BostonGlobe.com, 17 Mar. 2023 But Benjamin Smith, a professor of Latin American history at the University of Warwick in Britain, said the tweet could further fuel ongoing rumors that López Obrador, 69, is senile or otherwise unfit to govern. Bryan Pietsch, Washington Post, 25 Feb. 2023 In the Kremlin’s propaganda, Biden is now invariably portrayed as senile, sleepy and out of touch. David E. Sanger, BostonGlobe.com, 20 Feb. 2023 Trump regularly claimed during the 2020 campaign that Biden was senile. Dallas News, 9 Feb. 2022

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

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1595, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of senile was in 1595

Dictionary Entries Near senile

Cite this Entry

“Senile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/senile. Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

senile

adjective
se·​nile ˈsēn-ˌīl How to pronounce senile (audio)
 also  ˈsen-
: of, relating to, or characteristic of old age
senile weakness
especially : showing a loss of mental ability usually associated with old age
Etymology

from Latin senilis "showing the features of old age," from sen-, senex "old" — related to senior

Medical Definition

senile

adjective
se·​nile
ˈsēn-ˌīl also ˈsen-
1
: of, relating to, exhibiting, or characteristic of old age
senile osteoporosis
especially, sometimes disparaging + offensive : exhibiting a decline of cognitive abilities (as memory) associated with old age

Note: Due to its negative connotations, use of senile relating to cognitive decline is now typically avoided in medical contexts and may be considered offensive in general contexts.

2
of a cell : marked by senescence (see senescence sense 2)
As people accumulate exhausted T-cells, an adverse consequence is that the senile cells emit pro-inflammatory cytokines …William Faloon, Life Extension

More from Merriam-Webster on senile

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!