Definition of senile in US English:



  • 1(of a person) having or showing the weaknesses or diseases of old age, especially a loss of mental faculties.

    ‘she couldn't cope with her senile husband’
    • ‘Mind you, when you get too old then they will dismiss everything you say because they think you're senile.’
    • ‘‘Now I have only one thing left to do,’ she tells her senile mother (who keeps mistaking Julie for her sister).’
    • ‘The others leave him alone, thinking he is senile.’
    • ‘Ten minutes can be a very long time if one has to listen to someone go on about the digestive disorder their senile aunt suffered from a few months back.’
    • ‘That's the way my senile grandfather looks when I tell him he would have made a great first baseman for the Yankees.’
    • ‘And a caring, slightly puzzled expression covers Seibei's face as his senile mother constantly asks him which family he is from.’
    • ‘I am a senior and when I try to tell the younger generation what really happened they smile and more or less give the idea that old people are senile and the good people of the US would never have committed such an unforgivable sin.’
    • ‘Someone must have told this daughter to speak facts succinctly when dealing with a senile parent.’
    • ‘When she tells the nurse who is combing her hair that she never had TV before the nurse looks at her, thinking she's senile.’
    • ‘I pitied the poor souls who would listen to the rambling of the senile teachers on this most lazy day.’
    • ‘There must be some old, ailing, senile politician, vaudeville comedian or sports-man around whose death-bed you could perch like a flock of vultures.’
    • ‘She's a gun-shy divorcee whose surround-sound biological clock is ticking so loudly that everyone - from her senile aunt to her nosy butcher - is scrambling to set her up.’
    • ‘While they're out manning the picket lines, Billy is left home to care for his senile grandmother.’
    • ‘It is stated in the said law that anybody, be they babies or senile people, must pay this tax if they wish to go abroad.’
    • ‘You also know you're senile when you go mad with rage because folks are on strike. I used to adore strikes - mine or anyone else's.’
    • ‘And I must say that the rôle of senile fool is one that fits you rather well, Uncle.’
    • ‘She's so senile, but very sweet… and very happy.’
    • ‘For a very long time I could barely distinguish one coin from another, and would spend countless hours at cash registers painstakingly rifling through the contents of my wallet like a senile woman.’
    • ‘Mr. Jared still lives in that house, now all alone, and the last I heard he was senile in old age, half crazy and awaiting death each day.’
    • ‘Once in a while they would say something about the leader being senile and wanting revenge on me.’
    doddering, doddery, decrepit, aged, long in the tooth, senescent, failing, declining, infirm, feeble, unsteady, in one's dotage, losing one's faculties, in one's second childhood, mentally confused, suffering from alzheimer's, suffering from alzheimer's disease, suffering from senile dementia
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    1. 1.1 (of a condition) characteristic of or caused by old age.
      ‘senile decay’
      • ‘Being blessed with many long-lived ancestors - nonagenarians all over the place - I am resigned to seeing Senile Decay as the rather monotonous cause of death.’
      • ‘Could either of these tests predict future disability and senile weakness?’
      • ‘In our case, the senile degeneration of connective tissue is suspected to be the occasion of comedo formation.’


Mid 17th century: from French sénile or Latin senilis, from senex ‘old man’.