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eld·er 1

1. Greater than another in age or seniority.
2. Archaic Superior to another or others, as in rank.
1. An older person.
2. An older, influential member of a family, tribe, or community.
3. One of the governing officers of a church, often having pastoral or teaching functions.
4. Mormon Church A member of the higher order of priesthood.

[Middle English eldre, from Old English eldra; see al- in Indo-European roots.]

el′der·ship′ n.
Usage Note: In comparisons between two persons, the adjective elder is simply a more formal term for "older" and has no implication of advanced age: My elder sibling is fourteen; my younger is nine. In other contexts it does denote relatively old age, but with the added component of respect for a person's position or achievement: an elder statesman; an elder member of the court. If the simple fact of advanced or relatively advanced age is the point, older or elderly are usually more appropriate than elder: a survey of older Americans; an elderly waiter. · As with the adjective, the noun elder can be used comparatively without implying old age: He is my elder by three years. It can also refer to an office in certain churches or, more broadly, to a position of authority or respect conferred by age and experience: an elder in the Presbyterian Church; a tribal elder. The use of elder in the sense of "an elderly person" is uncommon in contemporary English, though it is widely used as an attributive in such phrases as elder care (or eldercare) and elder services. See Usage Note at old.

el·der 2

[Middle English eldre, from Old English ellærn.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. born earlier; senior. Compare older
2. (Card Games) (in piquet and similar card games) denoting or relating to the nondealer (the elder hand), who has certain advantages in the play
3. archaic
a. prior in rank, position, or office
b. of a previous time; former
4. an older person; one's senior
5. (Anthropology & Ethnology) anthropol a senior member of a tribe who has influence or authority
6. (Protestantism) (in certain Protestant Churches) a lay office having teaching, pastoral, or administrative functions
7. (Protestantism) another word for presbyter
[Old English eldra, comparative of eald old; related to Old Norse ellri, Old High German altiro, Gothic althiza]
ˈelderˌship n
Usage: The word elder is being increasingly used, as a more respectful way of referring to older people: elder care, elder abuse


1. (Plants) Also called: elderberry any of various caprifoliaceous shrubs or small trees of the genus Sambucus, having clusters of small white flowers and red, purple, or black berry-like fruits
2. (Plants) any of various unrelated plants, such as box elder and marsh elder
[Old English ellern; related to Old Norse elrir, Old High German erlīn, Old Slavonic jelǐcha, Latin alnus]


(Biography) Sir Mark Philip. born 1947, British conductor; musical director of the English National Opera (1979–93) and of the Hallé Orchestra from 2000
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈɛl dər)

adj. a compar. of old with eldest as superl.
1. of greater age; older.
2. of higher rank; senior.
3. of former times; earlier.
4. an older person: a boy who respects his elders.
5. an aged person.
6. an older, influential member of a tribe or community, often a chief or ruler.
7. a presbyter.
8. (in certain Protestant churches) a lay member who is a governing officer, often assisting the pastor in services.
[before 900; Middle English; Old English eldra, comp. of eald old]


(ˈɛl dər)

any shrub or tree of the genus Sambucus, of the honeysuckle family, having divided leaves and clusters of small red, black, or yellow berries.
[before 900; Middle English eldre, elrene, Old English ellærn]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. 'elder'

The elder of two people is the one who was born first.

Posy was the elder of the two.

If you have a sister or brother who was born before you, you can refer to them as your elder sister or brother.

He had none of his elder brother's charm.
2. 'eldest'

The eldest of a group of people, especially the brothers and sisters in a family, is the one who was born first.

Gladys was the eldest of four children.
Her eldest son was killed in the First War.
3. 'older' and 'oldest'

Elder and eldest are slightly formal, and many people do not use them at all. Instead of 'elder' and 'eldest' you can use older and oldest.

He's my older brother.
Six of their children were there, including the oldest, Luke.

You can use older and oldest in some ways in which you cannot use 'elder'. For example, you can use older after be, get, or grow, and in front of than.

Try it when you are a little older.
We're all getting older.
As he grew older, his fascination with bees developed into an obsession.
Harriet was ten years older than I was.

You cannot use 'elder' in any of these ways.

You can also use older and oldest to talk about things.

On older houses there may be guarantees for treatment against woodworm.
It is the oldest of London squares.
It claims to be the oldest insurance company in the world.

You cannot use 'elder' or 'eldest' to talk about things.

Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.elder - a person who is older than you areelder - a person who is older than you are  
adult, grownup - a fully developed person from maturity onward
doyen, dean - a man who is the senior member of a group; "he is the dean of foreign correspondents"
doyenne - a woman who is the senior member of a group
2.elder - any of numerous shrubs or small trees of temperate and subtropical northern hemisphere having white flowers and berrylike fruit
genus Sambucus, Sambucus - elder; elderberry
American elder, black elderberry, Sambucus canadensis, sweet elder - common elder of central and eastern North America bearing purple-black berries; fruit used in wines and jellies
blue elder, blue elderberry, Sambucus caerulea - shrub or small tree of western United States having white flowers and blue berries; fruit used in wines and jellies
danewort, dwarf elder, Sambucus ebulus - dwarf herbaceous elder of Europe having pink flowers and a nauseous odor
black elder, bourtree, common elder, elderberry, European elder, Sambucus nigra - a common shrub with black fruit or a small tree of Europe and Asia; fruit used for wines and jellies
American red elder, Sambucus pubens, stinking elder, red-berried elder - common North American shrub or small tree
bush, shrub - a low woody perennial plant usually having several major stems
3.elder - any of various church officers
church officer - a church official
presbyter - an elder in the Presbyterian Church
Adj.1.elder - used of the older of two persons of the same name especially used to distinguish a father from his son; "Bill Adams, Sr."
senior - older; higher in rank; longer in length of tenure or service; "senior officer"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. older, first, senior, first-born, earlier born the elder of her two daughters
1. older person, senior Nowadays the young have no respect for their elders.
2. (Presbyterianism) church official, leader, office bearer, presbyter He is now an elder of the village church.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


Of greater age than another:
1. A person who is older than another:
2. An elderly person:
Informal: oldster, old-timer.
3. One who stands above another in rank:
Informal: higher-up.
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
أَكْبَر سِنّاًأكْبَرُ سِنّاًشَجَرَة البَيْلَسانشَيْخ الكَنيسَهمن يَكْبُرُك سِنّا
eldriòeir sem eru eldriyllir
baznīcas vecākaisplūškoks, pliederisvecākais
baza čierna
büyükdaha büyükdaha yaşlıkilise mütevelli üyesimürver ağacı
lớn hơn


1 [ˈeldəʳ]
A. ADJ [brother etc] → mayor
my elder sistermi hermana mayor
elder statesmanviejo estadista m (fig) → persona f respetada
Pliny the ElderPlinio el Viejo
B. N (= senior) → mayor m; [of tribe] → anciano m; (in certain Protestant churches) persona laica que ejerce funciones educativas, pastorales y/o administrativas
my eldersmis mayores
don't criticize your elders and bettersno critiques a tus mayores CHURCHES OF ENGLAND/SCOTLAND


2 [ˈeldəʳ] N (Bot) → saúco m
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


adj [brother, sister] → aîné(e)
my elder sister → ma sœur aînée
(= older person) → aîné(e) m/f
the elder of her two daughters → l'aînée des deux sœurs
her elders (= those older than her) → ses aînés
their elders (= those older than them) → leurs aînés
(= senior person) (in community, tribe)ancien(ne) m/f
(= tree) → sureau m
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


adj attr comp of old
(= older) brother etcältere(r, s)
(= senior) Pliny the elderPlinius der Ältere, der ältere Plinius
respect your elders and bettersdu musst Respekt vor Älteren haben
(of tribe, Church)Älteste(r) m
(Presbyterian) → Gemeindeälteste(r) mf, → Presbyter(in) m(f)


n (Bot) → Holunder m
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


1 [ˈɛldəʳ]
1. adj (brother, sister) → maggiore, più vecchio/a
2. n
a. he is your elderè più anziano di te
one's elders → i più anziani
you should respect your elders → devi rispettare chi è più anziano di te
b. elders npl (of tribe) → anziani mpl


2 [ˈɛldəʳ] n (Bot) → sambuco
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(ˈeldə) adjective
(often of members of a family) older; senior. He has three elder sisters; He is the elder of the two.
1. a person who is older. Take the advice of your elders.
2. an office-bearer in Presbyterian churches.
ˈelderly adjective
(rather) old. an elderly lady.
ˈeldest adjective
oldest. She is the eldest of the three children.
the elderly
people who are (rather) old. It is important for the elderly to take some exercise.


(ˈeldə) noun
a kind of shrub or tree with purple-black fruit. (ˈelderberries).
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


أَكْبَر سِنّاً starší ældre älterer μεγαλύτερος mayor vanhempi plus âgé stariji maggiore 年上の 손위의 ouder eldre starszy mais idoso, mais velho старший äldre แก่กว่า daha yaşlı lớn hơn 年长的
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009


, elder flowers
a. mayor, de más edad; anciano-a; antepasados, los mayores.
English-Spanish Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012
References in classic literature ?
One day, in the sick chamber of Father Ephraim, who had been forty years the presiding elder over the Shaker settlement at Goshen, there was an assemblage of several of the chief men of the sect.
Passepartout approached and read one of these notices, which stated that Elder William Hitch, Mormon missionary, taking advantage of his presence on train No.
It was quite green, like the leaves of the elder, and was trimmed with large white Elder-flowers; so that at first one could not tell whether it was a stuff, or a natural green and real flowers.
So when the Old Man was dead each of the youths put a weed upon his hat and wore it until he was himself old, when, seeing that neither would give in, they agreed that the younger should leave off his weeds and the elder give him half of the estate.
Her success in society had been greater than that of either of her elder sisters, and greater even than her mother had anticipated.
There are then three parts of domestic government, the masters, of which we have already treated, the fathers, and the husbands; now the government of the wife and children should both be that of free persons, but not the [I259b] same; for the wife should be treated as a citizen of a free state, the children should be under kingly power; for the male is by nature superior to the female, except when something happens contrary to the usual course of nature, as is the elder and perfect to the younger and imperfect.
I met Antonia downtown on Saturday afternoon, and learned that she and Tiny and Lena were going to the river next day with Anna Hansen--the elder was all in bloom now, and Anna wanted to make elderblow wine.
Nevertheless, he ran with his head even with the shoulder of his one-eyed elder. When he ventured to run abreast of the older wolf (which was seldom), a snarl and a snap sent him back even with the shoulder again.
Lost in the immense field of conjecture opened by this reflection, the elder Mr.
"Yes, I was brought up quite differently," remarked the handsome elder daughter, Countess Vera, with a smile.
In the year 1861 Barr Lassiter, a young man of twenty-two, lived with his parents and an elder sister near Carthage, Tennessee.
"To distinguish the brothers, I will call them the elder and the younger; by the elder, I mean him who exercised the most authority.