senility

noun

se·​nil·​i·​ty si-ˈni-lə-tē How to pronounce senility (audio)
 also  se-
: the quality or state of being senile : the physical and mental decline associated with old age
especially : the deterioration of cognitive functioning associated with old age

Note: Due to its negative implication that cognitive decline is part of the normal aging process, use of the term senility is now typically avoided in medical contexts and may be considered offensive in general contexts. Dementia is usually considered the appropriate term to use when describing the serious progressive cognitive decline that most commonly affects older adults.

Examples of senility in a Sentence

with his increasing senility, Granddad is beginning to have more and more senior moments
Recent Examples on the Web Trump is only four years younger than Biden, but his bellicosity (to put it politely) has seemed to stave off accusations of senility. Clare Malone, The New Yorker, 25 Jan. 2024 Sherlock Holmes and obvious Sherlock Holmes proxies seem to be experiencing senility, drug addiction or general obsolescence with strange regularity. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Sep. 2019 While both men accused one another of lies, bullying, and hypocrisy in their public duties, the debate was conducted entirely on the basis of public policy and statesmanship rather than corruption, criminality, senility, or other personal sins. The Editors, National Review, 1 Dec. 2023 Defenders said her critics were confusing her patrician gentility for senility. Robert D. McFadden, New York Times, 29 Sep. 2023 This has nothing to do with conservative scare tactics about senility or a decades-long penchant for exaggeration and verbal gaffes. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 19 Sep. 2023 Set in the same world as Old Man Logan, Old Man Quill catches up with elderly Star-Lord, now lost in his fantasies of former glory as senility sets in. Joe George, menshealth.com, 6 May 2023 Unfortunately, senility exists in the world. Martin Dale, Variety, 16 Jan. 2022 Pets can show signs of senility. Tribune News Service, Star Tribune, 8 Jan. 2021

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

Word History

First Known Use

1652, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of senility was in 1652

Dictionary Entries Near senility

Cite this Entry

“Senility.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/senility. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

senility

noun
se·​nil·​i·​ty si-ˈnil-ət-ē How to pronounce senility (audio)
: the quality or state of being senile
especially : the physical and mental weakness of old age

Medical Definition

senility

noun
se·​nil·​i·​ty
si-ˈnil-ət-ē also se-
plural senilities
: the quality or state of being senile : the physical and mental decline associated with old age
especially : the deterioration of cognitive functioning associated with old age

Note: Due to its negative implication that cognitive decline is part of the normal aging process, use of the term senility is now typically avoided in medical contexts and may be considered offensive in general contexts. Dementia is usually considered the appropriate term to use when describing the serious progressive cognitive decline that most commonly affects older adults.

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