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Greatest in age or seniority. See Usage Note at elder1.

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


being the oldest, esp the oldest surviving child of the same parents
[Old English eldesta, superlative of eald old]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈɛl dɪst)

adj. a superl. of old with elder as compar.
oldest; first-born; of greatest age.
[before 900; Middle English; Old English eldesta, (e)ald old]
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.eldest - the offspring who came first in the order of birth
offspring, progeny, issue - the immediate descendants of a person; "she was the mother of many offspring"; "he died without issue"
Adj.1.eldest - first in order of birth; "the firstborn child"
first - preceding all others in time or space or degree; "the first house on the right"; "the first day of spring"; "his first political race"; "her first baby"; "the first time"; "the first meetings of the new party"; "the first phase of his training"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


adjective oldest, first, first-born, earliest born David was the eldest of three sons.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002
الأبن الأكْبر، البِنْت الكُبْرىالأَكْبَر
가장 나이 많은
en büyüğüyaşça en büyük
lớn nhất


[ˈeldɪst] ADJ [child] → mayor
my eldest sistermi hermana mayor
he's the eldestél es el mayor
the eldest of the fourel mayor de los cuatro
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


my eldest sister → ma sœur aînée
the eldest child → l'aîné(e) des enfants
the eldest → l'aîné(e)
He's the eldest → C'est l'aîné.
their eldest (= eldest child) → leur aîné(e)e-learning [ˈiːlɜːrnɪŋ] napprentissage m en ligne
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


adj attr superl of oldälteste(r, s)
n the eldestder/die/das Älteste; (pl) → die Ältesten pl; the eldest of four childrendas älteste von vier Kindern; my eldest (inf: = son) → mein Ältester; (= daughter)meine Älteste
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈɛldɪst] adjmaggiore
my eldest brother → il maggiore dei miei fratelli
the eldest (child) → il/la maggiore (dei bambini)
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.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


الأَكْبَر nejstarší ældst ältester πρεσβύτερος de más edad, el de más edad vanhin aîné najstariji il maggiore 最年長の 가장 나이 많은 oudste eldst najstarszy o mais velho самый старший äldst แก่ที่สุด yaşça en büyük lớn nhất 最年长的
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009


a. sup. el mayor, la mayor.
English-Spanish Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012
References in classic literature ?
I seem, then, to be worthier of the eldest Miss Larkins.
Allen, I long to introduce them; they will be so delighted to see you: the tallest is Isabella, my eldest; is not she a fine young woman?
Charles Hayter was the eldest of all the cousins, and a very amiable, pleasing young man, between whom and Henrietta there had been a considerable appearance of attachment previous to Captain Wentworth's introduction.
At home now were the old man and his wife, their second son who managed the homestead, the eldest who had come from Moscow for the holiday, and all the women and children.
Molly had no sooner apparelled herself in her accustomed rags, than her sisters began to fall violently upon her, particularly her eldest sister, who told her she was well enough served.
The gardener set his eldest son to watch; but about twelve o'clock he fell asleep, and in the morning another of the apples was missing.
The eldest was in her twenty-third year, the second a year younger, the third a year younger than the second, and the fourth a year younger than the third.
But she could hear of no situation that at once answered her notions of comfort and ease, and suited the prudence of her eldest daughter, whose steadier judgment rejected several houses as too large for their income, which her mother would have approved.
Bingley, his two sisters, the husband of the eldest, and another young man.
Having dispatched this Spartan composition by the post, Geoffrey lit his pipe, and waited the event of the interview between Lord Holchester and his eldest son.
Ferko fell fast asleep, but the other two remained awake, and the eldest said to the second brother, 'What do you say to doing our brother Ferko some harm?
A short time after we had opened our shops, my eldest brother, one of these two dogs, resolved to travel in foreign countries for the sake of merchandise.