Meaning of AGE in English


I. age 1 S1 W1 /eɪdʒ/ BrE AmE noun

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: aage , from Vulgar Latin aetaticum , from Latin aetas , from aevum 'lifetime, age' ]

1 . HOW OLD [uncountable and countable] the number of years someone has lived or something has existed ⇨ old :

Francis is the same age as me.

Experts disagree over the age of the drawings.

Dad retired at the age of 56.

at age 5/18 etc

In Britain, schooling starts at age 5.

4/15 etc years of age (=4, 15 etc years old)

She was just over 16 years of age.

at my/your etc age (=when you are as old as me etc)

At my age, it’s quite difficult getting up the stairs.

over/under the age of 5/18 etc

people over the age of 65

for his/her etc age (=compared with other people of the same age)

She’s tall for her age, isn’t she?


In everyday English, people usually use the expression how old …? rather than using the noun age :

▪ What age is your brother? ➔ How old is your brother?

▪ | They asked me my age. ➔ They asked me how old I was.

2 . LEGAL AGE [uncountable] the age when you are legally old enough to do something:

What’s the minimum age for getting a driver’s license?

You’re not allowed to buy alcohol. You’re under age (=too young by law) .

The normal retirement age is 65.

3 . PERIOD OF LIFE [uncountable and countable] one of the particular periods of someone’s life:

When you get to old age, everything seems to take longer.

The early teens are often a difficult age.

4 . BEING OLD [uncountable] the state of being old ⇨ youth

with age

High blood pressure increases with age.

Some of the furniture was showing signs of age.

5 . PERIOD OF HISTORY [countable usually singular] a particular period of history SYN era :

We are living in the age of technology.

Molecular biology is pushing medicine into a new age.

⇨ in this day and age at ↑ day (6)

6 . ages [plural] ( also an age ) especially British English informal a long time:

Simon! I haven’t seen you for ages.

That recipe takes ages.

it’s ages since/before/until etc something

It’s ages since we’ve played that game.

7 . come of age

a) to reach the age when you are legally considered to be a responsible adult

b) if something comes of age, it reaches a stage of development at which people accept it as being important, valuable etc:

During this period the movies really came of age as an art form.

⇨ ↑ New Age 1 , ↑ New Age 2

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meanings 1, 2 & 3)


▪ old age (=the time when you are old)

the problems of old age

▪ middle age (=between about 40 and 60)

He was in late middle age.

▪ a great/advanced age (=a very old age)

My aunt died at a great age.


Kirby is not alone in wanting to run his own business at an advanced age.

▪ a difficult/awkward age (=used mainly about the time when people are teenagers)

13 – 16 is often a difficult age.

▪ retirement age

The risk of experiencing poverty is much greater for those over retirement age.

▪ school age

Children should start doing homework as they approach high school age.

▪ school-leaving age British English

The government is proposing to raise the minimum school-leaving age.

▪ the legal age

In the US, the legal age for drinking alcohol is 21.

▪ the minimum age

16 years is the minimum age to drive a car.

▪ the voting age

plans to bring down the voting age from 18 to 16

▪ the marrying age

She was 28 – long past the usual marrying age.

■ phrases

▪ from an early/young age

She’d been playing the piano from a very early age.

▪ at an early/young age

Kids can start learning a second language at a young age.

▪ somebody (of) your own age

He needs to find people his own age.

▪ of childbearing age (=at the age when a woman can have children)

It is against the law to refuse to employ a woman of childbearing age because she may become pregnant.

▪ of working age

55 percent of the people are of working age.

▪ the age of consent (=when you are legally allowed to marry or have sex)

At 15, the girl was under the age of consent.

■ age + NOUN

▪ an age group/bracket/range

Men in the 50–65 age group are most at risk from heart disease.


The school takes in children from the seven to eleven age range.

▪ an age limit

There’s no upper age limit for drivers.

▪ age discrimination

laws against age discrimination in the workplace

■ verbs

▪ get to/reach/live to a particular age

One in three children die before they reach the age of 5.


The number of people living to to the age of 80 has doubled in the last fifty years.

▪ lower/raise the age (=at which something can be done)

The voting age was lowered from 21 to 18.

▪ look/feel your age (=look or feel as old as you really are)

The singer is 46, but she doesn’t look her age at all.


I keep getting aches in my legs and I’m starting to feel my age.

▪ act your age (=behave in the way that a person of your age should behave)

It’s time he started acting his age.

▪ ask/say your age (=ask or say how old you are)

It’s rude to ask a woman her age.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 5)

▪ the Ice Age (=one of the long periods of time, thousands of years ago, when ice covered many northern countries)

▪ the Stone Age (=the very early time in human history, when only stone was used for making tools, weapons etc)

▪ the Bronze Age (=the period of time, between about 6,000 and 4,000 years ago, when bronze was used for making tools, weapons etc)

▪ the Iron Age (=the period of time, about 3,000 years ago, when iron was first used for making tools, weapons etc)

▪ the Middle Ages (=the period in European history between about 1100 and 1500 AD)

▪ the Dark Ages (=the period in European history from 476 AD to about 1000 AD)

▪ the Elizabethan age (=the period 1558–1603 when Elizabeth I was queen of England)

▪ the Victorian age (=the period 1837–1901 when Victoria was Queen of England)

▪ the industrial age (=the time during the late 18th and early 19th centuries when goods or substances such as coal and steel were first produced in large quantities using machines)

▪ the modern age (=from the 20th century until the present)

the technical and scientific achievements that ushered in the modern age

▪ the space age (=since vehicles were able to travel in space)

▪ the nuclear age (=since nuclear energy was used for weapons or energy)

▪ the computer age (=since computers became widely used)

the modern computer age

▪ the information age (=since the Internet has become widely used)

Business has had to evolve in the information age.

▪ a golden age (=a time of great happiness or success)

a television show from the golden age of British comedy

▪ a new age (=a time when things are better than they were in the past)

Supporters see the coming season as the dawning of a new age for the club.

• • •


■ a period in history

▪ period a particular time in history, especially one studied as a subject:

the late Victorian period


the interwar period


During that period many people moved from the countryside to the towns.

▪ time a period of years, months, days etc:

The 1960s were a time of great social change.


the biggest earthquake in modern times


Verdun was an important city in Roman times.

▪ age a long period, especially one that represents a particular stage in the development of civilization or technology:

the industrial age


We are now in the age of the Internet.


the Stone Age (=when people used tools made of stone)

▪ era a long period that has a particular character or that is marked by particular events:

We live in an era of breathtaking change.


the post-war era


De Gaulle’s death marked the end of an era.

▪ epoch /ˈiːpɒk $ ˈepək/ formal means the same as era , but sounds more formal and important:

We are now entering a new epoch in human history.


the colonial epoch


It was the end of an epoch.

II. age 2 BrE AmE verb ( present participle aging or ageing )

1 . [intransitive and transitive] to start looking older or to make someone or something look older:

He was worried to see how much she’d aged.

The experience had aged him in advance of his years.

2 . [intransitive] to become older:

The buildings are ageing, and some are unsafe.

3 . [intransitive and transitive] to improve and develop in taste over a period of time, or to allow food or alcohol to do this SYN mature :

Cheddar cheese ages well.

The whisky is aged for at least ten years.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.