adjective ven·er·a·ble \ ˈve-nər(-ə)-bəl , ˈven-rə-bəl \
|Updated on: 12 Aug 2018

Definition of venerable

1 a : calling forth respect through age, character, and attainments
  • a venerable jazz musician
; broadly : conveying an impression of aged goodness and benevolence
  • encouraged by the venerable doctor's head-nodding
b : impressive by reason of age
  • under venerable pines
2 : deserving to be venerated used as a title for an Anglican archdeacon or for a Roman Catholic who has been accorded the lowest of three degrees of recognition for sanctity
3 : made sacred especially by religious or historical association


play \ˌve-nə-rə-ˈbi-lə-tē, ˌven-rə-\ noun


play \ˈve-nər(-ə)-bəl-nəs, ˈven-rə-\ noun


play \ˈve-nər(-ə)-blē, ˈven-rə-\ adverb

Examples of venerable in a Sentence

  1. [Julie] Powell never met Julia Child (who died last year), but the venerable chef's spirit is present throughout, and Powell imaginatively reconstructs episodes from Child's life in the 1940s. Her writing is feisty and unrestrained, especially as she details killing lobsters, tackling marrowbones and cooking late into the night. Publishers Weekly13 June 2005
  2. Under her stewardship, the onetime boardinghouse came to be heralded as the South's most venerable family restaurant, a reliquary of old-fashioned cooking—collard greens enriched with fatback, creamed corn straight from the cob, fried chicken with a pepper-flecked crust—where the tables groaned beneath the weight of a quintessential midday repast, and history stood still on the plate for all to admire. —John T. EdgeGourmetJanuary 2003
  3. The lower the P/E, as a rough rule of thumb, the cheaper the stock. Though this guide to value has lots of exceptions, it remains a venerable market benchmark. —Jonathan WeilWall Street Journal21 Aug. 2001
  4. I then descended to the Courts of justice, over which the judges, those venerable sages and interpreters of the law, presided, for determining the disputed rights and properties of men, as well as for the punishment of vice, and protection of innocence. —Jonathan SwiftGulliver's Travels1726
  5. the venerable old man was a cherished source of advice and wisdom for the villagers

  6. a venerable tradition that colleges have been maintaining for centuries

Recent Examples of venerable from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'venerable.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of venerable

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin venerābilis "entitled to respect," from venerārī "to solicit the good will of (a deity), hold in awe, venerate" + -bilis "capable of (acting or being acted upon) — more at -able

Synonym Discussion of venerable

old, ancient, venerable, antique, antiquated, archaic, obsolete mean having come into existence or use in the more or less distant past. old may apply to either actual or merely relative length of existence.
    • old houses
    • an old sweater of mine
ancient applies to occurrence, existence, or use in or survival from the distant past.
    • ancient accounts of dragons
venerable stresses the impressiveness and dignity of great age.
    • the family's venerable patriarch
antique applies to what has come down from a former or ancient time.
    • collected antique Chippendale furniture
antiquated implies being discredited or outmoded or otherwise inappropriate to the present time.
    • antiquated teaching methods
archaic implies having the character or characteristics of a much earlier time.
    • the play used archaic language to convey a sense of period
obsolete may apply to something regarded as no longer acceptable or useful even though it is still in existence.
    • a computer that makes earlier models obsolete

VENERABLE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of venerable for English Language Learners

  • : old and respected : valued and respected because of old age, long use, etc.

VENERABLE Defined for Kids


adjective ven·er·a·ble \ ˈve-nə-rə-bəl \

Definition of venerable for Students

1 : deserving to be venerated
Hint: Venerable is often used as a religious title.
2 : deserving honor or respect

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excessive admiration or flattery

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