Meaning of OLD in English


I. ˈōld, before a consonant often ˈōl adjective

( -er/-est )

Etymology: Middle English ald, old, from Old English eald, ald; akin to Old Saxon ald old, Old High German alt old, Old Norse aldr age, ala to bring up, nourish, Gothic alds period of time, age (of a person), altheis old, alan grown up, Latin alere to feed, nourish, alescere to grow, altus high, Greek aldēskein to grow, an altos insatiable, Sanskrit an ala fire (literally, the insatiable one), ṛdhnoti he flourishes, succeeds; basic meaning: to grow, nourish


a. : dating from the remote past : ancient

beautiful old Japanese traditions — Lafcadio Hearn

b. : persisting from an earlier time : chronic

old pains keep … gnawing at your heart — Joseph Conrad

c. : of long standing : having a status strengthened by the passage of time

an old friend

old residents of the vicinity — John De Meyer

comes from an old family


a. : distinguished from an object of the same kind by being of an earlier date

new … standards for old jobs — Bruce Payne

the old name was readopted at the time of incorporation — American Guide Series: Pennsylvania

how slow this old moon wanes — Shakespeare

specifically usually capitalized : belonging to an early period in the development of a language or literature and preceding a middle period

b. : constituting an earlier geographic entity

the old Roman Empire

repeatedly toured the old Northwest — E.S.Bates

c. of a holiday : celebrated on the Old Style date

Old Christmas

Old Midsummer Day


a. : having existed for a specified period of time

a little girl three years old

a gambrel roofed house over 200 years old

the campaign was scarcely two days old — P.W.Thompson

b. : exceeding a specified age

old geese retailed at 47¢ lb.


a. : performed in or descriptive of the distant past

old sacrifices to the Cretan bulls

mentioned in old histories

b. : of, relating to, or characteristic of antiquity or of a past era : antique , bygone

interpreting old writers in their own tongue — Benjamin Farrington

old Hitchcock chairs

rural simplicity and innocence because in old days, as now, this region lay apart from the active life … near the sea — Samuel Van Valkenburg & Ellsworth Huntington

c. : stemming from or reminiscent of a past era

tenacity of old opinion — H.T.Buckle

giving new meanings to old words — M.R.Cohen

chandeliers, which are merely old , as opposed to antique — New Yorker

d. : famed through the ages

the old historical lands of Europe — Mark Pattison


a. : advanced in years : nearing the end of the normal life span

an old man with a long white beard

a tall old virgin pine … spared by fire and woodcutter — American Guide Series: Minnesota

b. : exhibiting the physical or mental characteristics of age

looked old at 20 because of prolonged suffering

wake up … in a world where no one was conventional or stuffy or old — Margery Sharp

6. : having a knowledge or ability gained through long practice : experienced

old in the ways of conspirators — Max Peacock


a. : identified with an earlier period

the old democratic objection to despotism — G.K.Chesterton

ministers … who spoke the old tongue — Oscar Handlin

the grandfather's clock still stands in the same old place

retained all of his old alertness and charm — F.J.Mather

b. : during an earlier period : former

hundreds of his old students were present — L.M.Crosbie

the badge … is treasured among old members of our squadron — L.G.Pine


a. : deteriorated or mellowed by or as if by time or use : aged , worn

old books

old wine

old pasture

marks the northern end of an old sea wall — H.Lovegrove

— often used to express disparagement

give mamma that dirty old stick

generalized affection

good old Santa Claus

our little old wobbledy calf — Eugene Field

a great old establishment — Sinclair Lewis


fifty years ago, there was only one kind of pneumonia — just plain old pneumonia — R.J.Huebner

back to the same old grind


the old stomach did a buck and wing — P.G.Wodehouse

or as an intensive

having a high old time

especially of any

come any old time, I'll be home all day

not any old ink will print well — Séan Jennett

b. : well advanced toward reduction to baselevel — used of topography and topographic features or their age

a wide, nearly level floor … characterizes an old valley — W.J.Miller

c. obsolete : dressed in old clothes : shabby

the rest were ragged, old , and beggarly — Shakespeare

d. : no longer in use : discarded

the profitable … reworking of old tailings — American Guide Series: Nevada

e. : of a grayish or dusty tone — used of a color


ancient , venerable , antique , antiquated , antediluvian , archaic , obsolete : old is a general term opposed to young or new, describing whatever has had a long life or existence. ancient , often opposed to modern, applies to what has been in existence from the remote past; it may suggest possession of valuable characteristics (as rarity or wisdom) accruing from age, describe an aspect of the distant now dead past, or be used to indicate hoary antiquity

some illustrious line so ancient that it has no beginning — Edward Gibbon

the civilization of China is ancient — Havelock Ellis

poets of ancient Greece

ancient pre-Inca Peruvians — Current Biography

the decrepit manager who was too ancient and incompetent for more serious employment — Ellen Glasgow

venerable usually implies respect or veneration

venerable men, you have come down to us from a former generation — Daniel Webster

the ruins, Etruscan, Roman, Christian, venerable with a threefold antiquity — Nathaniel Hawthorne

but sometimes emphasizes decrepitude

a venerable Hudson whose driver makes periodic stops to wield a screwdriver and siphon gasoline — Claudia Cassidy

antique is a close synonym of ancient; it is likely to apply to something old-fashioned that has acquired value through rarity or nostalgic charm

a savor of the antique, primeval world and the earliest hopes and victories of mankind — Laurence Binyon

antique monsters, older than Italy and Greece, than Babylon and Carthage — Llewelyn Powys

such prosperous cities had already in Leland's day outgrown their antique suits of stone armor — G.M.Trevelyan

an antique clock

antiquated usually applies to what is discredited or deprecated as outmoded

we are apt to scorn our neighbor because his rate of motion is faster or more sluggish than our own. He is antiquated if he clings to the values of yesterday — A.L.Guérard

as antiquated as the powdered periwig of an eighteenth century courtier — Waldemar Kaempffert

antediluvian carries an even stronger sense of deprecation

up-to-date models of scientific inquiry have steadily replaced the antediluvian constructions of an earlier generation — Ethel Albert

archaic applies to what belongs to or has the characteristics of an earlier period

when new opinions have overthrown the archaic institutions, they will create new institutions in harmony with themselves — S.M.Crothers

Portugal at this time, archaic in its chivalry, had the most resplendent court in Europe — Francis Hackett

methinks is an archaic construction

obsolete applies to what has been entirely displaced or superseded

obsolete as the feudal baron — J.C.Snaith

the relationship between the English king and the English people is a relationship far more modern and far better fitted to the needs of the times than the obsolete language and the obsolete trappings of the court suggest — D.W.Brogan

instructing his civil officers in California to regard General Kearny's orders as obsolete — Irving Stone

II. noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English ald, old, from ald, old, adjective

1. obsolete : an advanced stage : old age

they must not be gelded … in the old of the moon — Richard Surflet & Gervase Markham

2. : an earlier time or period

in days of old when knights were bold — Edward Thomas

3. : one that is of a specified age — usually used in combination

had come to the park when she was a five-year- old — W.A.White

for 14 and 15 year olds the reduction has been about 38 percent — American Child

entered a promising two-year- old in the Derby

- of old

III. |ōl(d) adverb

Etymology: old (I)

: of old : anciently — used chiefly in combination

old -established

IV. adjective

: tiresome

doing it the same way all the time will get old — Laurie Sue Brockway

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.