Main definitions of elder in English

: elder1elder2

elder1

adjective

  • 1(of one or more out of a group of associated people) of a greater age.

    ‘my elder daughter’
    ‘the elder of the two sons’
    • ‘My father was not attached to them, but my elder brother was.’
    • ‘She is to be looked after as a mother and respected as an elder sister.’
    • ‘The two elder sons of the Guru courted martyrdom fighting in action for us.’
    • ‘His elder brother Ian joined the army and became a lieutenant-colonel in the SAS.’
    • ‘Yellow represents the young child, red the youth, blue the adult and white the elder.’
    • ‘She agrees to apologize, and the elder Morgans promise to assist with Arnette's upcoming college expenses.’
    • ‘Children and teenagers usually receive angpao, a red envelope that contains money, from elder family members.’
    • ‘Younger sister Meimei handles the coffee, while all dishes are prepared in advance by elder sister Wenwen, a born chef, to provide diners with quick and sumptuous meals.’
    • ‘My elder sister has another story which she told me when I was a child.’
    • ‘George, the elder son, was a religious and civic force in Newark.’
    • ‘He was one of the first icons my parents and elder siblings gifted me.’
    • ‘He was an only child, and he felt Henriette very lucky in her elder siblings.’
    • ‘My elder son was running in the London mini-marathon, which precedes the real thing.’
    • ‘So my elder sister and I suffered caning for the smallest of mistakes when we were young.’
    • ‘You can tackle your parents, elder siblings or friends for possible placements.’
    • ‘The elder son of King John, Henry was nine when his father died.’
    • ‘Hayden portrays the power of racial hatred in an elder white man's interior.’
    • ‘I'm sure others will come up with more, the heavens, just as they had done for each and every one of my elder brothers every time one of them got knocked down.’
    • ‘He was the one who wanted to sleep with his elder brother's wife.’
    • ‘That rule certainly applies when one's elder sibling is heir to the longest family dynasty in the world.’
    older, senior, first, firstborn, more grown up, big
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Used to distinguish between related famous people with the same name.
      ‘Pitt the Elder’
      • ‘One picture shows Wilson and the elder Bush walking through the White House grounds deep in conversation, 30 hours before the launch of the first Gulf war.’
      • ‘He is often known as William Pitt, the Elder to distinguish him from his son.’
      • ‘Gaius Plinius Secondus, called Pliny the Elder to distinguish him from his nephew, known as Pliny the Younger, was born in 23 CE in Como (Northern Italy).’
      • ‘As one of his final actions before leaving the White House in 1992, the elder George Bush, the father of the current president, pardoned Abrams.’
      • ‘Dowd was a White House reporter under the elder Bush.’

noun

  • 1one's elderPeople who are older than one.

    ‘schoolchildren were no less fascinated than their elders’
    • ‘One must respect and greet one's elders regardless of their social status.’
    • ‘Maybe my moral outlook is the result of general respect for elders and betters.’
    • ‘The problem with the young scallywags of today is that they don't have any respect for their elders and betters.’
    • ‘We all like to find fault with our elders and betters.’
    • ‘They aren't taught respect of their elders and betters, and that's a shame!’
    • ‘The hope is that this drama will prompt viewers to think twice about the way we view our elders and betters.’
    • ‘The more we hear that young adult Catholics are different from their elders in the church, the more we discover just how much they are like other Americans of all ages.’
    • ‘To make Australian companies competitive, workers have to give up 100 years' worth of gains and not question what we are told to do by our elders and betters.’
    • ‘The image of the First Minister sitting quietly in his place, listening to his elders and betters, describes the new relationship rather well.’
    • ‘The only feature that does not immediately fit into this scheme is the exchange of places between the young farmhand and his more experienced elder, a regular feature of most of the texts.’
    • ‘Thank goodness that they have little or no respect for their supposed elders and betters’
    • ‘The writer is pitifully ignorant of the history of the field about which he purports to correct his elders and betters.’
    • ‘They are starting to signal that to their elders and betters in the union movement, who have been brave enough to put a specific proposal to Dr Cullen in their post-election briefing.’
    • ‘What's worse is when these people are supposedly your elders and betters and making such a public show of it.’
    • ‘Respect for one's parents - and one's elders, generally - is a central value in Korean life.’
    • ‘The pupils answer back and have no respect for their elders and betters.’
    • ‘It is important to keep a sense of proportion about these things and, it seems to me, there are times when our elders and betters lose the run of themselves.’
    • ‘This, like calculus or reading Milton, is something the undergraduates have studied and learned to do from their elders and betters.’
    • ‘Many young, bright and keen barristers would deeply resent the suggestion that they were incapable of doing the work for which their elders and betters are being so handsomely paid.’
    • ‘Generally our messy shoulder length hair and denims invoked hostility and disdain from our elders and betters.’
    1. 1.1one's elder A person who is older than one by a specified length of time.
      ‘she was two years his elder’
      • ‘He married at age 25 a woman 15 years his elder, and stayed with her for 29 years until she died.’
      • ‘He had a brother who was a Canon of Southwark Cathedral, and leaves a sister, a few years his elder, who still lives in the family house in Surrey.’
  • 2often eldersA leader or senior figure in a tribe or other group.

    ‘a council of village elders’
    • ‘These people were not chosen as community leaders and the elders did not teach the community to follow these two-spirited people.’
    • ‘These are being run by local Muslim leaders and community elders.’
    • ‘In contrast to political leaders and elders, community intellectuals retain the better qualities of both.’
    • ‘It is time the elders and religious leaders within areas of this city got a hold of the unruly and offensive elements among their community's young people.’
    • ‘Councils of chiefs and elders from a number of bands met to discuss major decisions that would affect more than one band.’
    • ‘Towards the end of the play, through a series of monologues, the council leaders, community elders and police hint at their desire to carry on as if everything is fine.’
    • ‘The doctor locked the residence and started to phone his relatives and tribe elders while the rest of the doctors tried to reassure as that this was nothing to worry about.’
    • ‘In the villages it is not Taliban officials who decide local issues but jirgas, small councils of village elders whose rulings are highly respected.’
    • ‘How does my generation comprehend the fact that while the nations burns and our leaders fiddle - our elders sit, pontificate and posture?’
    • ‘The committee is designed to complement existing village authorities such as elders and local councils known as shuras.’
    • ‘It's only a truism to say that girls are better behaved than boys but the academics note that females are more likely to go along with what elders and leading figures like teachers think.’
    • ‘Closest to the fire sat the village elders and leaders, then sat the able-bodied men, and the outside of the huddle consisted of the women and children.’
    • ‘‘The elders of the Hopi Tribe prophesised the coming of the rainbow people who would help heal the world,’ explained Dean.’
    • ‘In Kabul, they were handed over to village chiefs and tribal elders who pledged to support the new administration.’
    • ‘So too is the development of promising young researchers as they move between institutions, problems and mentors, finally themselves becoming elders of the tribe.’
    • ‘In addition to protecting our elders, tribes are engaged in protecting and preserving the environment.’
    • ‘The village sarpanch and elders threatened to make Tarabai's life difficult if she returned to the village.’
    • ‘Over the next 10 years they are going to be out there looking for the jobs, so it's up to our leaders, elders, teachers and role models to ensure they are prepared.’
    • ‘One of the tribe's elders remembered the Yawalapiti village used to be in a forest clearing near the Tuatuari River.’
    • ‘He says he has struck deals with 250 tribes whose elders have pledged to protect lines and installations in their areas.’
    senior, old person, older person
    leader, senior figure, official, patriarch, father, guiding light, guru
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 An official in the early Christian Church, or of various Protestant Churches and sects.
      ‘he left the Church of which he had been an elder’
      • ‘Sometimes it helps to have another person pray with us or to have the elders of the church pray for us during the assembly of the saints.’
      • ‘The elders of Walton Evangelical Church led the induction service.’
      • ‘George found time to be a church elder, having been ordained in 1974.’
      • ‘Suppose the elders of our church had tried in advance to try to cover every situation.’
      • ‘This is a succinct but thoughtful introduction to the subject of counselling and will be particularly useful to pastors, elders and other Christians involved in pastoral care.’
      • ‘It has also made it very difficult for pastors and elders to visit church families.’
      • ‘Our aim is to establish churches with functioning elders and church constitutions, and a love for the Bible and one another.’
      • ‘When he arrived at Kabwata, he found a team of deacons and one elder heading the church.’
      • ‘The church made its first momentous step toward diversity when the elders of the church in Jerusalem opened the Christian movement to gentiles.’
      • ‘In particular it emphasises the importance of training local men as church leaders, to become pastors and elders in their own churches, as soon as possible.’
      • ‘A certain church elder's distant nephew never exhibited any interest in religion, organized or otherwise.’
      • ‘It provides useful instruction for pastors, and describes the role and responsibilities of elders within the church.’
      • ‘He was a known quantity to the Episcopal Church elders.’
      • ‘And I will do my best to lead the elders of our church from accepting any money offered to this church from the proceeds of gambling.’
      • ‘In many of the churches we visit, I find Masons involved as deacons, elders, board members and even pastors.’
      • ‘For example, Paul reminded the elders of the church of Ephesus of one saying of Jesus.’
      • ‘I asked the elders of our church to pray for my healing.’
      • ‘The church law which dictates that members must turn to elders rather than the police also demands that there must be two witnesses to a crime before taking any action.’
    2. 2.2historical A member of a senate or governing body.
      • ‘The twenty-eight elders, who were members for life, seem drawn in practice, if not by law, from a narrow range of families in the upper echelons of Spartan society.’
      • ‘Residents warned they were ready to do battle with the government if a settlement is not brokered by their elders, who were meeting to find a way out of the impasse.’
      • ‘According to Mir Walijan, an aide to the Khost governor, Sabri elders had radioed the governor during the bombing for help.’
      • ‘Its system of non-religious governments by elders allowed it to operate regardless of the authorities.’
      • ‘They also observed lessons in the school, visited a mosque and met local chiefs, elders and members of the wider community.’
      • ‘They were ruled by oligarchies or councils of elders, or some mixture of the two, and might therefore best be called tribal republics.’
      • ‘How should the members of this informal elders council be chosen?’
      • ‘Will the elders and policy makers take the earnest and bold message sent across by children seriously?’
      • ‘Those minds can only be changed by moderate and liberal Muslims - clerics, teachers, elders, respected community members.’
      • ‘The exhibition was mounted in consultation with Inuvialuit elders and community members.’

Origin

Old English ieldra, eldra, of Germanic origin; related to German älter, also to eld and old.

Pronunciation

elder

/ˈɛldə/

Main definitions of elder in English

: elder1elder2

elder2

noun

  • 1A small tree or shrub with pithy stems, white flowers, and bluish-black or red berries.

    Genus "Sambucus", family "Caprifoliaceae": numerous species, in particular the common Eurasian "S. nigra"

    • ‘Here, a narrow path snakes to Mayfield Pond through thick borders of meadow grass and woodland, elder, birch and hawthorn.’
    • ‘A factory farm stood silent and abandoned, hedges of elders dripped berries and were decorated with white trumpets of bindweed.’
    • ‘Noises tell of a nearby motorway but brambles, elders and hawthorns on each side hide all but the straight empty path ahead, until he sees a small clearing among bushes on his right.’
    • ‘Normally elder would come into leaf in late February or March, and into blossom in late April or May.’
    • ‘By the time we're eating platefuls of asparagus, the second sign of full-on spring has arrived - elderflower blossoms bursting out all over the elder tree.’
    • ‘The trees include willow, cherry, poplar, acers, larch, ash, birch, sycamore, elder and sitka spruce.’
    • ‘Willows, elders and alders can be planted around the edges to soften the effect of the regimented poplars.’
    • ‘The leaves have some resemblance to those of elder; hence the name.’
    • ‘In Prussia the coal of the alder, lime tree, poplar, elder, willow, hemp, and hazel is used for powder.’
    • ‘Places vulnerable to casual damage or vandalism will need plants which, if broken, will grow again, such as willow, alder, shrub roses and elder.’
    • ‘At points the towpath is bordered with mature trees and thickets of elder and hawthorn, home to many different species of birds.’
    • ‘It connected us with a fruity hedge with brambles, rosehips, sloes, and a hundred yards of elders weighed down with berries.’
    • ‘The most familiar use of the elder tree is probably that of the berries being cooked to make elderberry wine and various jams and jellies.’
    • ‘We have tried growing variegated elder under ancient yew trees without success.’
    • ‘An analogy would be that, in English folklore, the elder plant has been used in countless different ways medicinally and for food.’
    • ‘The marsh gave way gradually to dry land, and the reeds and willows to hazels and elders.’
    1. 1.1 Used in names of plants that resemble the elder in leaf or flower, e.g. ground elder.
      • ‘The floodplains contained cottonwood, willow, box elder, and soft maple.’
      • ‘Scarcity of cottonwood and box elder at this elevation makes previous exposure to these hosts unlikely.’
      • ‘Ground elder is edible and was used as a medicinal herb in the Middle Ages to cure gout.’
      • ‘The back half of our garden is infested with ground elder.’
      • ‘Q. I have about 40 maple and box elder trees on my lot.’

Origin

Old English ellærn; related to Middle Low German ellern, elderne.

Pronunciation

elder

/ˈɛldə/