Etymology
Advertisement

Words related to elder

old (adj.)

Old English ald (Anglian), eald (West Saxon, Kentish) "antique, of ancient origin, belonging to antiquity, primeval; long in existence or use; near the end of the normal span of life; elder, mature, experienced," from Proto-Germanic *althaz "grown up, adult" (source also of Old Frisian ald, Gothic alþeis, Dutch oud, German alt), originally a past-participle stem of a verb meaning "grow, nourish" (compare Gothic alan "to grow up," Old Norse ala "to nourish"), from PIE root *al- (2) "to grow, nourish." The original Old English vowel is preserved in Scots auld, also in alderman. The original comparative and superlative (elder, eldest) are retained in particular uses.

The usual PIE root is *sen- (see senior (adj.)). A few Indo-European languages distinguish words for "old" (vs. young) from words for "old" (vs. new), and some have separate words for aged persons as opposed to old things. Latin senex was used of aged living things, mostly persons, while vetus (literally "having many years") was used of inanimate things. Greek geraios was used mostly of humans; palaios was used mostly of things, of persons only in a derogatory sense. Greek also had arkhaios, literally "belonging to the beginning," which parallels French ancien, used mostly with reference to things "of former times."

Old English also had fyrn "ancient," which is related to Old English feor "far, distant" (see far, and compare Gothic fairneis, Old Norse forn "old, of old, of former times," Old High German firni "old, experienced").

Meaning "of a specified age" (three days old) is from late Old English. Sense of "pertaining to or characteristic of the earlier or earliest of two or more stages of development or periods of time" is from late Old English. As an intensive, "great, high," mid-15c., now only following another adjective (gay old time, good old Charlie Brown). As a noun, "those who are old," 12c. Of old "of old times" is from late 14c.

Old age "period of life of advanced years" is from early 14c. Old Testament is attested from mid-14c. (in late Old English it was old law). Old lady "wife, mother" is attested from c. 1775 (but compare Old English seo ealde hlæfdige "the queen dowager"). Old man "man who has lived long" is from late Old English; the sense of "husband, father, boss" is from 1854, earlier (1830) it was military slang for "commanding officer;" old boy as a familiar form of address is by c. 1600. Old days "former times" is from late Old English; good old days, "former times conceived as better than the present," sometimes ironic, is by 1670s. Old Light (adj.), in religion, "favoring the old faith or principles," is by 1819.

Advertisement
alder (n.)
tree related to the birch, Old English alor "alder," from Proto-Germanic *aliso (source also of Old Norse ölr, Danish elle, Swedish al, Dutch els, German erle), from the ancient PIE name of the tree (source also of Russian olicha, Polish olcha, Latin alnus (French aune), Lithuanian alksnis), from root *el- (2) "red, brown," used in forming animal and tree names (see elk).

The unetymological -d- was added 14c.; the historical form aller survived until 18c. in literary English and persists in dialects, such as Lancashire owler, which is partly from Norse.
*al- (2)
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to grow, nourish."

It forms all or part of: abolish; adolescent; adult; alderman; aliment; alimony; Alma; alma mater; alt (2) "high tone;" alti-; altimeter; altitude; alto; alumnus; auld; coalesce; elder (adj., n.1); eldest; Eldred; enhance; exalt; haught; haughty; hautboy; hawser; oboe; old; proletarian; proliferation; prolific; world.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek aldaino "make grow, strengthen," althein, althainein "to get well;" Latin alere "to feed, nourish, suckle; bring up, increase," altus "high," literally "grown tall," almus "nurturing, nourishing," alumnus "fosterling, step-child;" Gothic alþeis, Dutch oud, German alt "old;" Gothic alan "to grow up," Old Norse ala "to nourish;" Old Irish alim "I nourish."
elderly (adj.)

"bordering on old age, somewhat old," 1610s, from elder + -ly (1). Now, generally, "old." Old English ealdorlic meant "chief, princely, excellent, authentic." Old English had also the related eldernliche "of old time," literally "forefatherly."

eldest (adj.)
Old English (Mercian) eldrost "most advanced in age, that was born first," superlative of eald, ald "old" (see old). Superseded by oldest since 16c. Compare elder (adj.).
-er (2)

comparative suffix, from Old English -ra (masc.), -re (fem., neuter), from Proto-Germanic *-izon (cognates: Gothic -iza, Old Saxon -iro, Old Norse -ri, Old High German -iro, German -er), from PIE *-yos-, comparative adjective suffix. Originally also with umlaut change in stem, but this was mostly lost in Old English by historical times and has now vanished (except in better and elder).

For most comparatives of one or two syllables, use of -er seems to be fading as the oral element in our society relies on more before adjectives to express the comparative; thus prettier is more pretty, cooler is more cool [Barnhart].
parent (n.)

early 15c. (late 12c. as a surname), "a mother or father; a forebear, ancestor," from Old French parent "father, parent, relative, kin" (11c.) and directly from Latin parentem (nominative parens) "father or mother, ancestor," noun use of present participle of parire "bring forth, give birth to, produce," from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, bring forth." Began to replace native elder after c. 1500.

senator (n.)

c. 1200, senatour, "member of a council of citizens invested with a share of the government of a state," specifically in reference to ancient Rome, from Old French senator (Modern French sénateur), from Latin senator "member of the senate," from senex "old; old man" (from PIE root *sen- "old").

Elder (n.) would be the native equivalent. Old English might also express the idea by folcwita. As "member of a (modern) governing body" from late 14c.; specifically in U.S. use from 1788. Fem. form senatress attested from 1731. The Senators was the name of the professional baseball team in Washington, D.C., from 1891 to 1971.