Middle English Dictionary Entry

ōld(e adj.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

1a.
(a) Of living beings: near the end of the normal span of life, advanced in age; also, of children: of an age late in childhood, pre-adolescent; (b) used disparagingly; (c) ~ man, a man well-advanced in age; (d) ~ quene (wif, womman), a woman well-advanced in age; also, used disparagingly; (e) as an epithet [cp. 7a. (c)].
1b.
In phrases: ~ and yong, yong and ~, young and old; of all ages; ~ or yong, yong or ~, of any age; ~ ne yong, of no age.
1c.
(a) Mature, experienced, venerable; veteran; grown-up, adult; of animals and plants: mature; (b) having the physical characteristics of old age; also fig.
2.
Of or pertaining to the latter part of life; ~ age, age ~, ~ daies, daies ~, ~ lif, ~ yeres, yeres ~, old age.
3.
(a) Of things: long in existence or in use; also, long-lasting [quot.: c1400]; worn with age or long use; worn out, deteriorated, etc.; for ~, on account of age; (b) of food, cooking oil, wine, etc.: aged; stale; (c) of fertilizers: ripe; (d) of the moon: in the last phase; ?also, waning.
4a.
(a) Of a certain age or length of existence: thre daies ~, fiftene yere ~, hou ~, etc.; a furlong wei ~, in existence the length of time it takes to walk a furlong; even ~, of the same age; so ~ that, old enough (to be able to do sth.); (b) in phrases with of (a, o): a thriti winter ~, of..yere (monthes) ~; (c) comp.: having lived or existed longer; (d) of the moon: fourtene daies (nightes) ~, etc.; (e) having the physical characteristics of (a certain) age.
4b.
(a) Positive: of a father with the same name as his son: elder, senior; also, of Christ as the elder brother of mankind; (b) comp.: of one of two persons: elder; of a person within a group of three or more: eldest; of a father, uncle, or brother having the same name as a son, nephew, etc.: senior, elder; (c) sup.: of a person within a group of three or more: eldest; of one of two persons: elder; alder oldest, eldest, first-born.
4c.
Superlative: chief, most distinguished, occupying the leading position(s.
5a.
(a) Of ancient origin, made long ago; dating far into the past and still in existence, having existed for a long time; of proverbs: of immemorial usage; of fields: long under cultivation; (b) bi ~ time, of ~ time(s, since time immemorial, from olden days; of elder time, of greater antiquity; of ~ antiquite, for a long time; also, of great age; of ~ experience, very experienced; of ~ memorie, recording the distant past; of the ~ time, existing since olden times; (c) ~ auncestrie, ancient lineage; ~ richesse, ancient hereditary wealth; (d) comp.: existing in time prior to (sb. or sth.); greater (than sb. or sth.).
5b.
Of a form or appearance which attests ancient origin; ancient, archaic, old-fashioned; of ~ werk, of ancient construction or design [cp. 13. (b), quot.: c1330].
5c.
(a) Of custom, debt, sorrow, quarrel, sin, friendship, etc.: of long standing, having existed for a long time; (b) of a friend, enemy, servant, etc.: of long standing or intimate relationship; (c) ~ in, of long experience or practice in (sth.), experienced or habituated in (sth.); (d) med. & surg. of ailments, wounds, etc.: long-standing, inveterate, chronic, resistant to treatment; ~ disposicioun, chronic morbid condition; ~ humoures, corrupted or diseased bodily fluids.
5d.
Known or familiar from of old; habitual, customary, traditional, usual, expected; also, hackneyed; the ~ daunce, the traditional arts of love.
6.
(a) Of the Devil or a demon: ancient, primeval; ~ enemi, ~ fend, ~ naddre, ~ serpent, ~ shukke, etc.; also, of an object associated with the Devil [quot.: a1500(?c1425)]; (b) of God: ?eternal [OF veus 'seen' misread: vieus 'old']; fig. an ~ yer, ?an entity encompassing all time.
7.
(a) Belonging to antiquity or to a period now past; ancient, archaic; former, earlier; also, belonging to the recent past, earlier in one's lifetime; ~ english, old-fashioned, archaic, or obsolete English; (b) of persons: having lived in antiquity or in a former age; faderes ~, ~ auncestres, distant ancestors; ~ britons, Britons living before the Anglo-Saxon conquest; the ~ peple, the Hebrews; etc.; (c) as an epithet; (d) bi daies ~, bi ~ daies (tide, time), in (a, of, on) ~ daies, in (of) ~ time, of ~ antiquite, ~ of date, long ago, in ancient times, in olden days; oldest of time, most ancient; (e) dealing with or drawn from the distant past.
8.
(a) Of an observance, appearance, injury, a bell, the course of a river, a way of life, etc.: in existence, use or effect at an earlier period than another of the same kind; former, earlier; (b) the ~ e (isetnesse, laue, lei, storie, testament), the Mosaic law; the old dispensation; the Old Testament; ~ lettres, an earlier form of the Hebrew alphabet; (c) theol. the) ~ man, unregenerate human nature; fig. ~ sour dough, evil influence of fallen human nature; (d) the elder (eldest) cause efficient, the first or earliest efficient cause in the process of producing humors.
9.
Occupying the designated office before the current incumbent; former.
10.
Used as an intensive in the phrase god ~.
11.
In proverbial expressions.
12.
In cpds. or combs.: ~ iren, scrap iron; ~ seid, of a proverb: ancient, long current; ~ shrof, scrap metal.
13.
(a) In surnames; (b) in place names [see Smith PNElem. 1.8].

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • c1300 SLeg.Edm.Abp.(Hrl 2277)150 : Boþe his sostren a godes name: nonnen he makede þere & lyuede þer al here lyf & holie wymmen were Þe vlþere was siþþe priorasse: of þe leuedies echon For hem haþ siþþe god ido: miracles menie on.
  • (1270) in Reaney Dict.Br.Surnames396 : de la Yoldelonde.
  • (1281) in Reaney Dict.Br.Surnames396 : Yollelonde.
  • (1333) in Reaney Dict.Br.Surnames396 : Yeallelond.
  • Note: New spelling

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • a1500 Jul.Artist.Recipes (Jul D.8) 140/3 : Hit may be kept þe space of a ʒer in good stat, for þe eller þat hit [ys] þe better hit is.
  • a1500 Dc.45 Artist.Recipes (Dc 45) 152/8 : Hyt may kept þe space of a ʒyer odyr more yn goode stat, for þe yldyr hyt ys þe betyr hyt ys.
  • Note: Additional quots., prob. sense 4a.(c). New spellings (eller & ildir).