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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web The issue is about more than just the heightened risk of a sudden death tilting the balance of power, or a senile leader making important decisions. Charlotte Alter, Time, 21 Oct. 2021 Cherry angiomas are sometimes referred to as senile angiomas—that's because they are commonly associated with getting older, usually popping up after age 30, per Mount Sinai. Sarah Fielding,, 5 Oct. 2021 Graham and Trump would prefer to use it to push a larger narrative, that the media and the Democrats conspired to contain the truth so that Joe Biden, a weak and possibly senile candidate, would win the election. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 13 June 2021 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, 15 Apr. 2021 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, 1 Nov. 2019 The cause was senile degeneration of the brain, said a son, Peter Siebentritt. Benjamin Gordon, Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2019 Iacocca had to overcome the doubts of Chairman Henry Ford II, grandson of the auto pioneer, who had taken over the company's reins from his senile grandfather during World War II. Donald Woutat,, 2 July 2019 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near senile



senile atrophy

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Cite this Entry

“Senile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for senile


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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