Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

old - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

adjective     old pronunciation in American English
Word Forms
  1. 1
    used for talking about the age of someone or something
    how old:

    She didn’t mention how old her children were.

    “How old are you?” “I’m 5 years old.”

    old enough to do something:

    He’s not old enough to see this movie.

    too old to do something:

    Aren’t you too old to play with dolls?

    1. a.
      used for saying that someone is not as young as other people

      He’s 26 now, which is quite old in this sport.

      the oldest:

      He’s the oldest boy in his class.

      older than:

      I’m older than my brother.

  2. 2
    someone or something that is old has lived a long time

    A lot of old people live alone.

    Trees are the oldest living things on the planet.

    get/grow old:

    I hope I’ll still be able to play golf when I get old.

    1. a.

      the old

      old people. Many people now think that this expression is offensive.
  3. 3
    something that is old has existed or been used for a long time

    There’s an old belief that animals can predict earthquakes.

    Her sewing machine’s really old, it was her mother’s.

    1. a.
      [only before noun] used in a negative way about something that is not useful or in good condition any more

      Why do you keep all these old newspapers?

      That old car of theirs is getting so unreliable.

    2. b.
      [only before noun] used in a positive way about something that is very familiar

      It was nice to get back into my old routine.

  4. 4
    [only before noun] used for describing something that existed, happened, or was used in the past

    Thy” is an old way of saying “your.”

    Look at all these old machines!

    1. a.
      used for referring to something that has been replaced by a newer thing of the same type

      The old highway to Salinas only had two lanes.

    2. b.
      used with the names of cities and countries, for referring to the oldest part or to the way it was in the past

      a tour of Warsaw’s picturesque Old Town

    3. c.
      used with the names of languages to refer to the form of the language that was used in the past

      a poem written in Old English

  5. 5
    informal used for showing that you like someone and care about them

    How is my old buddy Jim?

    dear old:

    Dear old Emily, what would we do without her?

  6. From our crowdsourced Open Dictionary
    get old to lose appeal, attractiveness, newness; not to be interesting anymore

    Being the houseguest having to sleep on the couch was getting old very quickly.

    Submitted by Boris Marchenko from Russian Federation on 16/08/2014
See also
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


to manipulate someone psychologically so that they begin to question their own perceptions and memories

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

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

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play