Definition of old in US English:



  • 1Having lived for a long time; no longer young.

    ‘the old man lay propped up on cushions’
    See also elder, eldest
    • ‘There were old people coming to her premises by car who were not able to park outside her shop because of the taxi ranks.’
    • ‘I don't know how I'd get out if it wasn't for people like yourself that really care for old people like me.’
    • ‘I turned to see the same old lady who had glared at me in the store.’
    • ‘The survey also found that many single old people choose cohabitation instead of marriage.’
    • ‘A few years ago I bumped into some old people at a party who actually went to the show, and they raved about it.’
    • ‘Although most likely in his thirties, the man had features that looked old beyond his years.’
    • ‘We look forward to meeting all our supporters young and old there that night.’
    • ‘Chopsticks are clean and efficient and can be used by everyone from children to old people.’
    • ‘The young virile fox is faster and will outrun the hounds, while the old fox past its prime will fall.’
    • ‘Carers for old people have been told to stop helping with shopping, cooking and cleaning as a council tries to cut costs.’
    • ‘I have taken very old people to the local doctor to have their age estimated.’
    • ‘The majority of those left behind are too young, old or sick to travel far.’
    • ‘He looked too old to be in high school; I assumed he was in college.’
    • ‘The setting for the film is a beautiful temple on a secluded lake where an old monk and his young charge live.’
    • ‘Walkers young and old turned out in their droves at Hollingworth Lake at the weekend to help raise asthma awareness.’
    • ‘An old priest and a young one sat side by side on the ground with a book.’
    • ‘Crowds young and old lined the streets to clap and cheer the parade, led by brass brands, on their way to Albert Square.’
    • ‘Now we want all residents, young and old, to select a project in their neighbourhood and make a local improvement.’
    • ‘Then we were walking along a path in a field, past some old trees, over their roots.’
    • ‘Today she said she wanted to get everyone, young and old, involved in the community's regeneration.’
    elderly, mature, aged, older, senior, advanced in years, up in years, getting on
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    1. 1.1 Made or built long ago.
      ‘the old quarter of the town’
      • ‘He wanders past the old city gate, marooned by itself on an island in the traffic.’
      • ‘Hidden in a narrow alley of the old quarter of Nice, one discovered it by chance or word-of-mouth.’
      • ‘Along the rural lanes beyond Arambol, old farmhouses are enclosed in latticed palm shade.’
      • ‘Although it is quite a steep hill up to the old quarter once there the land levels out and it is very pleasant to walk around.’
      • ‘Explore the Lowther Hills or wander along lower-level paths, past the old lead mine workings.’
      • ‘In the past, the old surface was dug up with ear-splitting pneumatic drills and dumped at landfill sites.’
      • ‘Please don't repeat the mistakes made in the past, because old buildings can be made part of the future.’
      • ‘The new gravel road has been built parallel to the old tarmac Gun Park Road’
      • ‘It's built out of an old palace which has some of the most beautiful Buddhist art I've ever seen.’
      • ‘The area up by the old Japanese quarter had a lot of places I discovered that seemed pretty unchanged to me.’
      • ‘She was a beautiful old steam yacht belonging originally to the Guinness family.’
      • ‘Hong got out of the taxi, and walked past a couple old warehouses as the cab sped away.’
      • ‘The old quarter is also worth a stroll around, with some nice cafes in the Naranjas square.’
      • ‘Parc du Chateau lies beyond the old town and rises so steeply uphill that there is a lift which will take you to the top.’
      • ‘It was stated that the bell was a very old one and had belonged to the late Mr. Churchley's grandfather.’
      • ‘The centre is in Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter of this handsome old city.’
      • ‘A team of four heavily built labourers had been contracted to demolish the old building to make way for a new office block.’
      • ‘The bottom line is the original house was old and it was time to replace it.’
      • ‘One place I used to deliver the papers to in the wintry darkness was in the big old cemetery out beyond the edge of town.’
      • ‘Faint remains of a Venetian fort lie crumbling on the hill above the old quarter.’
      historic, antiquated
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    2. 1.2 Possessed or used for a long time.
      ‘he gave his old clothes away’
      • ‘To take part, all you need to do is turn up in warm, old clothes, with sensible sturdy shoes.’
      • ‘Do the donors who feed money and old possessions in at one end of the pipeline have any ideas where it leads?’
      • ‘I see a total mess and my room is a really a pile of clothes and old toys.’
      • ‘All of a sudden, I was back in my old clothes with some of my old things, hanging out with friends in the way I used to do.’
      • ‘A number of houses have been given a box to collect glass, cans and old clothes’
      • ‘He pulled the object up and saw it was an old red wool bag and filled with clothes of rich material.’
      • ‘All artwork created by the kids can be taken home that day and children are advised to wear old clothes.’
      • ‘She got into her old nightgown and hung her wet clothes in the sunlight of her room.’
      • ‘Why everyone seems to find it a necessity to carry around old pictures is beyond me.’
      • ‘Apparently, there was concern about some old papers now in my possession and she was going to want to check them.’
      • ‘You should bring old, warm waterproof clothes, sturdy boots and a packed lunch.’
      • ‘It was one of those houses where the only things in the attic were old toys, clothes, and boxes.’
      • ‘Imagine that your garage is filled chock-a-block with old furniture and other kinds of junk.’
      • ‘Some have been offering old clothes but these have been rejected by most charities.’
      • ‘There's not much of a market for old dictionaries with half the pages missing.’
      • ‘His prized possession was an old army greatcoat that reached almost down to his ankles.’
      • ‘I wear moonboots from the boutique; a hut where you drop off old clothes and pick up whatever you need.’
      • ‘Some have been offering old clothes, but these offers have been rejected by most charities.’
      • ‘Her clothes were battered, her face bruised and her boots old, but she held herself proudly.’
      • ‘People are urged to take along old toys and clothing to donate to the needy and candles and carols sheets are on sale.’
      worn, worn out, shabby, threadbare, holey, torn, frayed, patched, tattered, moth-eaten, ragged, yellowed
      antique, veteran, vintage
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    3. 1.3US informal Boring or tiresome, especially as a result of repetition or overfamiliarity.
      ‘I wish she'd shut up—it's getting old’
      • ‘Boxing movies never get old.’
      • ‘Plus, all of the self-deprecating, angst-riddled lines that Allen writes for himself (or his stand-in) have gotten a little old over the years.’
      • ‘Despite pinching from everything from silent movies to CSI, the ring scenes get old fast, mostly because they hold no surprises.’
      • ‘There are a few humorous moments among the outtakes, though otherwise they get old pretty quickly.’
      • ‘It gets old very quickly seeing person after person heap buttery praise on everyone and everything associated with the production.’
      • ‘If you ate filet mignon every day, it would get old.’
      • ‘The Soderbergh-interviewing-Soderbergh stunt was a clever idea, but it gets old in a hurry.’
      • ‘It's the yelling part that gets old pretty fast, as it constitutes just about every line that comes out of Wilder's mouth.’
      • ‘The acting, singing and music were great, but the quirky comedy got a little old for me in this one.’
      • ‘Also, his obsession with time and punctuality does get old after a while, at times threatening to turn the character into a one-trick pony.’
      • ‘Season three has degenerated to a point where they are just trying to break any taboo they can, and it's getting a little old.’
      • ‘The premise would have had much more to work with as a drama than as a comedy; there are only so many gay jokes you can do before they get old and they alone cannot carry the film.’
      • ‘The studios keep making this genre of film, and people still go and see them, but they're getting old fast.’
      • ‘Does the "nerd" thing ever get old?’
      • ‘As played by Mercedes Cechetto, Sabine has an undeniable brashness, but her adventures feel scripted rather than natural and her sullen pout gets old very fast.’
      • ‘He decides to cool off at the Riverbend Apartments, a swinging singles paradise outside Atlanta, a Pleasure Island for adults, but even that gets old.’
      • ‘After 17 years of working with them, that group as a whole got real old.’
      • ‘The action is hackneyed - the slo-mo martial arts stuff was neat the first time, but it was already getting old by the time it was re-used in The Matrix Reloaded.’
      • ‘For those who know Stan, you've heard many of these stories before - but surprisingly they never get old.’
    4. 1.4 Having the characteristics or showing the signs of age.
      ‘he complained of being old beyond his years’
      • ‘He is no long the hard hitting slugger with a swing that could shake a stadium, but he still has a little bit of magic in his old bones.’
      • ‘The strings are so old they sound like dusty clothes lines that are grossly out of tune.’
      • ‘She stared at the patch of old wallpaper: huge pink and red roses, gaudy, sentimental.’
  • 2attributive Belonging only or chiefly to the past; former or previous.

    ‘valuation under the old rating system was inexact’
    • ‘One of its campaigns is an attack on asylum seekers, which recycles a old leaflet used in past BNP campaigns.’
    • ‘Today we face new challenges that simply can't be answered in the old language of race relations.’
    • ‘In the Czech Republic, the old nobility is enjoying a new lease of life.’
    • ‘Nothing is more damaging to status in the group than using old slang.’
    • ‘Those that wish to revert to the old system of omnipotent sub-sovereigns also miss the point.’
    • ‘The Doctor would be able to go back to Gallifrey and see all his old mates and new people that didn't used to exist in his Universe.’
    • ‘I got to know a little bit about it, at least the old Berlin of the past, through Benjamin's eyes.’
    • ‘By tradition, remakes of old arcade games are rubbish, but Midway seem to have missed the ruling.’
    • ‘Well, regional leagues were tried in the past with the old Division Three North and Division Three South.’
    • ‘The agriculture crisis has destroyed the old barter system he had with his regular clients.’
    • ‘To get there, you walk past the old cricket pavilion, now the province of the Scouts.’
    • ‘In many respects his plays, like his personal life, belonged to the old regime.’
    • ‘Today's feelings were sparked by me walking past my old primary school yesterday for the first time in ages.’
    • ‘An attempt by the Kazakh authorities to privatise the old system of collective farming failed.’
    • ‘Mr Jopson believes the old system the ambulance service used to operate ten years ago worked much better.’
    • ‘National is being led to the sad, old rhetoric of the past; it cannot help itself.’
    • ‘Some quarters in Pakistan continue to sustain the old notion of two-nation theory.’
    • ‘Fini's party has its roots in the fascist organisation of the past and includes many old fascists.’
    • ‘Parker smiled and started to walk over to Jamie as she walked past him to her old seat in the corner.’
    • ‘Their defensive mentality is locked in the past and based on old glories.’
    • ‘This road takes you past the old whaling station that is to be converted to a visitors centre at some point.’
    bygone, past, former, olden, of old, remote, previous, early, earlier, earliest
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    1. 2.1 Used to refer to the first of two or more similar things.
      ‘I was going to try to get my old job back’
      • ‘The rationale for replacing the old buses remains slightly mysterious.’
      • ‘The sense was that these were books belonging to the old or new covenant, not that the books themselves were the covenants.’
      • ‘And don't you hate it even more when you realise that they're referring to your old webspace?’
      • ‘The charity hopes to replace its old helicopter this year with a new, larger model and then work towards buying a second one.’
      • ‘Fred was sitting close by, working on replacing old laces with fresh ones on greenhide pack bags.’
      • ‘Friends say these views are what makes Sunderland such an interesting mix of old and new Cadbury values.’
      • ‘It now appears as if a new Railway bridge will be put in place to replace the old low bridge that was damaged recently.’
      • ‘So there's a lot to unwind, to undo, if you are going to revert to the old spelling.’
      • ‘Following discussions with the contractor, new brighter bollards will this week replace the old ones.’
      • ‘I did the Swatch Biker-X last year on Cullys old bike and made it to the quarters.’
      • ‘The bridge replaces the old North Bridge which has now been closed except for light traffic and pedestrians.’
      • ‘Most people have had more than one job and it is easy to lose track of old employers and the pension schemes you may have paid into.’
      • ‘But Southampton transport planners have said there are no plans to dig up the old ramps or replace them.’
      • ‘That will mean he will miss the West Riding County Cup quarter-final against his old club on Wednesday.’
      • ‘What could she do but move on, find a new life and new dreams? - the old one was beyond repair.’
      • ‘Now Volvo has taken the concept even further with the launch of a stunning new V70 estate to replace the old model.’
      • ‘Yes, the bus will actually go past the old Supreme Court where the trials took place.’
      • ‘It meant giving up her old name, all her possessions, shaving her head and wearing burgundy and yellow robes.’
      • ‘But does this mean that you should throw out your old database and replace it with this one?’
      • ‘Before the wedding the kitchen was renovated and an electric stove was put in to replace the old coal range.’
      • ‘The only setback was that I was unable to import the comments from the old system.’
      • ‘We know that many old bridges are being replaced by modern bridges way too fast.’
      former, previous, ex-, one-time, sometime, erstwhile, once, then, lapsed
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    2. 2.2 Dating from far back; long-established or known.
      ‘we greet each other like old friends’
      ‘I get sick of the same old routine’
      • ‘Jim, as he was popularly known, belonged to an old and highly respected family in the district.’
      • ‘They have identified the need to extend the day, to keep cities alive beyond the old working hours.’
      • ‘How many times do we need to see the same old arguments made and the same sources quoted?’
      • ‘They, on the other hand, were at their old game of sloppy passing and giving away possession.’
      • ‘These old songs belong to an era long gone, but the issues they address are still relevant today.’
      • ‘Not to get you into another relationship, but to move yourself beyond the old patterns.’
      • ‘What on earth possessed me to read through those old emails and instant message files?’
      • ‘One could settle for the same old brand every time, but to get stuck in a fragrance rut is a cardinal sin.’
      • ‘Can you weblog and not keep cropping up amongst the same old lists of sites?’
      • ‘On the dinner table the conversation turns to the characters in an old Western movie.’
      • ‘It was as comfortable as an old shoe, and it brought back old memories from the past.’
      • ‘Sometimes the old order is beyond reform and simply has to go in order to make way for the new.’
      • ‘The event is funded by old and new businesses in the Quarter, and the city council.’
      • ‘However, the name of the artist and date of some of the old works might be beyond identification.’
      • ‘By recording all database changes, it also goes beyond simply archiving old messages.’
      • ‘You can resolve the same old problem with a new approach and make a breakthrough.’
      • ‘I belong to the old imperial class who want to put up roads and hospitals and make life easier for people.’
      • ‘These aren't the same old depressing allegations, no, this time the allegations are red hot!’
      • ‘At a certain point the old system is full of too many contradictions to sustain itself.’
      • ‘I rush over, and find that an old friend of mine is attending the casualty.’
      hackneyed, hack, banal, trite, overused, overworked, cut and dried, tired, worn out, time-worn, stale, stereotyped, clichéd, platitudinous, unoriginal, derivative, unimaginative, commonplace, common, pedestrian, prosaic, run-of-the-mill, stock, conventional
      time-honoured, old-time, long-established, age-old, long-standing, long-lived, enduring, lasting
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    3. 2.3 (of a form of a language) as used in former or earliest times.
      • ‘They are given in the book in the form of old Irish writing, new Irish writing and English.’
      • ‘This describes perfectly his career as a philologist and his passion for old languages.’
      • ‘There are 114 chapters in the Qur'an, which is written in the old Arabic dialect.’
  • 3in combination Of a specified age.

    ‘he was fourteetn years old’
    ‘a seven-month-old baby’
    1. 3.1as noun, in combination A person or animal of the age specified.
      ‘a nineteen-year-old’
  • 4informal attributive Used to express affection, familiarity, or contempt.

    ‘it gets the old adrenaline going’
    ‘“Good old Mom,” she said’
    • ‘We always lament how big parties have killed the good old one-to-one conversation.’
    • ‘Those who yearn for the good old warehouse days are going to appreciate the jazzy, ambient vibe.’
    • ‘I remember when I read the book the first time and I read this one part and had a good old chuckle to myself.’
    • ‘Get rid of the new-labour new-tory dictatorships and let's have good old democracy back again!’
    • ‘So, for this event, I cooked from just regular vegetables and good old ingredients.’
    • ‘I rode him first at Punchestown in the autumn of 1999 and we've had a good old haul together.’
    • ‘Here even the good old Scholl has acquired a sexy new heel and comes in the colours of the rainbow.’
    • ‘They like remembering the good old times in the spacious room with furniture matching the topic.’
    • ‘No studio, thus far, has bankrolled a big production about good old association football.’
    • ‘Is it time for a return to the good old values of Yorkshire thrift?’
    • ‘Ah, I thought, that good old British tolerance and decency really warms your heart.’
    • ‘No one can throw a wrench into family values and the good old American dream quite like he can.’
    • ‘I started using the good old notebook recently and all I have got is a list of random ideas that need sorting.’
    • ‘I really fancy my guests having a right good old toast to my memory.’
    • ‘Whether you're looking for a tactical boxing match or a good old slug-fest, Knockout Kings has it all.’
    • ‘There's a good old adage which really does work, If you want something doing well, do it yourself!’
    • ‘Forty one per cent of people admit to being surface cleaners, never doing a good old clean.’
    • ‘Because having been voted in, you just know that they will be up to the same old tricks.’
    • ‘Reshepu strongly felt the good old postboxes were being neglected and he chose them as his subject.’
    • ‘To say that people get really drunk because of drinks promotions is a load of old tosh.’
    • ‘Those of us who take our cynicism neat had a good old chuckle about that.’


Where two, and no more, are involved, they may be older and younger: the older of the twins, by ten minutes, is Sam; the younger is Pamela. Where there are more than two, one may be the oldest or youngest: I have four siblings, of whom Jane is the oldest. See also former and latter


  • any old

    • Any item of a specified type (used to show that no particular or special individual is in question)

      ‘any old room would have done’
      • ‘Over the weekend however, I hope I was able to show that any old hack can get in a bus and go up the mountain for a few days.’
      • ‘Just feeding it into any old shredder will do just fine.’
      • ‘Acting is a refined craft that takes years to perfect and isn't something that can just be knocked out by any old Joe Schmoe.’
      • ‘This wasn't just any old fad, though, but one which has dominated western eating habits for almost the last eight years.’
      • ‘I decided last year that I wasn't going to go on applying for just any old office job just because I need the money.’
      • ‘People are saying they don't want any old tat, they want to find quality and they want to find a bargain, that is special and unique.’
      • ‘Don't be ridiculous, I scolded, you're just trying to think up any old excuse so you can get up from the computer.’
      • ‘My teachers would buy any old excuse for why I couldn't be at school.’
      • ‘It's so simple that any old sailor and any old journalist can litigate it in less than two minutes.’
      • ‘But the press cannot seriously claim to be acting as public watchdog when it publishes any old rubbish.’
  • as old as the hills

    • Of very long standing or very great age (often used in exaggerated statements).

      • ‘Now this debate might be and probably is as old as the hills - I honestly don't know, but I can at least guess.’
      • ‘What's going on is not exceptional… it's a story as old as the hills and a lot older than the Internet.’
      • ‘The story is as old as the hills, and there can be nothing compelling about such hackneyed themes.’
      • ‘The schemes and lures used to motivate us to forward chain letters are as old as the hills, and we only annoy our friends by sending them on.’
      • ‘Some of the reasons for this are as old as the hills.’
      • ‘Feeling as old as the hills, I get my coat and leave.’
      • ‘The idea of marriage is almost as old as the hills and was performed even in the most primitive of human societies and cultures.’
      • ‘The story of men clinging to power long after they have outlived their uselessness is as old as the hills and just as obvious.’
      • ‘To value the sound of a poem as much as its written meaning may seem like a new thing; in fact it's as old as the hills.’
      • ‘Sure, this technique is as old as the hills, but it works.’
      out of date, outdated, outmoded, old-fashioned, archaic, antiquated, anachronistic, ancient, antediluvian, superannuated, outworn, behind the times, primitive, medieval, quaint, old-fangled, obsolescent, obsolete, prehistoric
      View synonyms
  • be old enough to be someone's father (or mother)

    • informal Of a much greater age than someone (especially used to suggest that a romantic or sexual relationship between the people concerned is inappropriate).

      • ‘Cat calmly turned around and looked at the trucker, he was old enough to be her father and big enough to crush her with one fist.’
      • ‘You're darling, but you should be chatting up other 21-year-olds instead of someone who's old enough to be your mother.’
      • ‘Good looking guys are allowed to ogle, but not ones old enough to be your father.’
      • ‘As a young doctor he also finds himself falling for the same woman - who happens to be old enough to be his mother.’
      • ‘I went on a ‘date’ with a man old enough to be my father.’
      • ‘It was another of John's meaningless sexual encounters, and this one with a woman old enough to be his mother.’
      • ‘I am not jealous, because she's old enough to be his mother.’
      • ‘Only minutes later, she returns with her catch of the day: a man old enough to be her father, if not her father's father.’
      • ‘She married a man old enough to be her father, then took him on a honeymoon too strenuous for his heart.’
      • ‘I was terrified, I was talking to a man old enough to be my father and he wanted me to come visit him.’
  • of old

    • 1In or belonging to the past.

      ‘he was more reticent than of old’
      • ‘After this year, the tatty old displays of old just won't be good enough.’
      • ‘The threat is that the multicultural divisions of old become battle lines.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats were behaving more like the Labour Party of old.’
      • ‘They played some great football and looked like the team of old that was back to themselves.’
      • ‘As the second half proceeded Tyrone players started to play with the flare and skill of old.’
      • ‘Then there was Sonia, from the word go it was obvious she was not the Sonia of old, yet she gave it a go.’
      • ‘I look through the squad and don't see the quality of old, in particular when I look at their attack.’
      • ‘He bulled forward like the heavyweight boxer of old, scoring nine times in eight climactic games.’
      • ‘In days of old, High Sheriffs had the authority to raise an army and even order executions of convicts.’
      • ‘Every Tuesday night, people ramble in for the music and chat and to see the cottage as in days of old.’
      bygone, past, former, olden, of old, remote, previous, early, earlier, earliest
      View synonyms
    • 2Starting long ago; for a long time.

      ‘they knew him of old’
  • the old days

    • A period in the past, often seen as significantly different from the present, especially noticeably better or worse.

      ‘it was easier in the old days’
      ‘we are less confident than in the good old days’
      ‘the bad old days of incoherence and irresponsibility’
      • ‘In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.’
      • ‘She had a good recall of the old days and enjoyed sharing those memories with friends.’
      • ‘It wasn't like this in the old days: they cared so much about the art they had riots and everything.’
      • ‘In the bad old days, some companies were little more than legalised charlatans.’
      • ‘In the old days, he explains, they learned gardening from the elders of their tribe.’
      • ‘Molly had some great memories of the old days to recall and share with family and friends.’
      • ‘Harriet recalls the good old days when they gave you the plot three times in the half-hour episode.’
      • ‘Let's try to enjoy today more and maybe we will miss the good old days less.’
      • ‘In the old days, only the aged could afford the trip; now the affluent young want a taste, too.’
      • ‘It's like small town hospitals used to be back in the old days, modest, but complete and perfect.’
  • any old way

    • In no particular order.

      ‘they've dropped things just any old way’
      in disorder, in a muddle, in a jumble, in disarray, in a disorganized manner, untidily, haphazardly, indiscriminately, in a mess, in confusion, in a heap, anyhow, any old how, pell-mell, topsy-turvy
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Old English ald, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch oud and German alt, from an Indo-European root meaning ‘adult’, shared by Latin alere ‘nourish’.