Etymology
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elder (adj.)

"more old," Old English (Mercian) eldra, comparative of eald, ald (see old); only English survival of umlaut in comparison. Superseded by older since 16c. Elder statesman (1921) originally was a translation of Japanese genro (plural).

elder (n.1)

"elderly person, senior citizen," c. 1200, from Old English eldra "older person, parent; ancestor; chief, prince" (used in biblical translation for Greek presbyter); see elder (adj.). Meaning "one having authority in the community" (originally through age) s from late 14c. and biblical translations of Latin seniores. Compare German Eltern, Danish forældre, Swedish föräldrar "parents." The Old English for "grandfather" was ealdfæder. Related: Elders.  Middle English also had olderes "parents, forebears" (mid-15c.), from the later form of eld.

elder (n.2)

type of berry tree, c. 1400, from earlier ellen, from Old English ellæn, ellærn "elderberry tree," origin unknown, perhaps related to alder, which at any rate might be the source of the unetymological -d-. Common Germanic, cognates: Old Saxon elora, Middle Low German elre, Old High German elira, German Eller, Erle. Related: Elderberry.

updated on August 19, 2019

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Definitions of elder from WordNet
1
elder (n.)
a person who is older than you are;
Synonyms: senior
elder (n.)
any of numerous shrubs or small trees of temperate and subtropical northern hemisphere having white flowers and berrylike fruit;
Synonyms: elderberry bush
elder (n.)
any of various church officers;
2
elder (adj.)
used of the older of two persons of the same name especially used to distinguish a father from his son;
Synonyms: older / sr.
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.