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noun [countable] informal

a person who is aged fifty or more and is still attractive and successful, especially someone famous



'50 and fantastic: rise of the Quintastics … Sexy, smart and with a ferocious new lease of life at 50 – they're women whose mid-lives are far from a crisis.'

The Express, UK 29th January 2010

'… You're Not 50, You're Quintastic … Ponce de Leon searched for the mythical fountain of youth in Florida, but the UK might have been a smarter place to look, judging from the number of British-born celebrities who've retained their glamorous appearance as they've aged.'

SecondAct.com 1st February 2011

If you're rapidly approaching the dreaded five-oh, or if, shock horror, you've already passed it and are becoming acutely aware that the 'yesterdays' outnumber the 'tomorrows', then your spirits might be lifted by a new blend in the domain of demographics. Take courage, fifty-somethings, because in 2011 you could be described as a quintastic.

August 2011 will see one of the most powerful men in the world become a quintastic, as US President Barack Obama celebrates his fiftieth birthday

The tongue-in-cheek expression quintastic is an informal way of describing a person who is aged fifty or over but retains their good looks and capacity to lead a life which is equally, if not more, successful than it was in the 'first half'. Having weathered the storm of marriage, children, lovers, divorces, difficult-to-please managers and maybe a headache or two, the quintastic is someone who has got their 'second wind', managing to stay positive and forward-looking despite their advancing years.

Primarily, though not exclusively, applied to women, the label quintastic is often exemplified by successful actresses who remain attractive in their maturity – the likes of Kim Cattrall, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson and Sharon Stone. Use of the term has however been galvanized by celebrities of both genders who in the past year have embraced their half century with confidence and ease, with for example pop-singer-cum-activist Bono and actor Colin Firth numbering among the most recent high-profile male quintastics. August 2011 will see one of the most powerful men in the world become a quintastic, as US President Barack Obama celebrates his fiftieth birthday.

As someone who's on the downward slope towards quintastic status, I find it comforting to know that there's something newly cool about turning 50. Emma Soames, editor of Saga magazine (Saga is a British company focussing on the needs of people aged 50 and over) argues that 'We are welcoming an era in which 50 is the new 34' – amen to that!

Background – quintastic

Used as both a countable noun and an adjective, the word quintastic is of course a product of changing attitudes as a result of increased life expectancy. In 2011, the majority of healthy fifty-year-olds can look forward to another 30 years of active life, whereas their counterparts born a century earlier would have been within a few years of the end of their innings.

Quintastic is a blend of the adjective fantastic and the prefix quin-. Derived from Latin quinque, meaning 'five', quin- is a productive prefix used to convey groups of five, as in e.g. quintet (five musicians), quintuplets (five children born at once to the same mother) and quincentenary (a five hundredth anniversary). As far as I'm aware, quintastic represents the first time its meaning has been stretched a little further to refer to a multiple of five.

Quintastic represents another example of popular use of -tastic (compare poptastic, funtastic, chavtastic, apptastic etc), which is rapidly becoming an independent suffix in its own right, meaning something like 'excellent or highly appropriate in relation to …' (whatever it combines with).

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 13th June 2011.

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

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