Elder vs Older: Difference and Comparison

In order to understand the language and use it in the correct manner, one needs to be aware of all the rules and exceptions that are used in the language. Elder and Older are two words that might sound very similar, and this is the reason why many people use them interchangeably too.

However, they are very different from each other.

Key Takeaways

  1. Elder refers to a person who is older and has more authority or wisdom, while older refers to a more advanced person.
  2. Elder is used to show respect for older people or as a title, while older is used to describe age.
  3. Elder can also refer to a relative older than oneself, while older is used to describe the age in general.

Elder vs Older

Elder is a person who is older and holds a position of respect or authority within a community or group. More senior refers to someone who has lived longer and has more years of life experience than someone else. It is a relative term, meaning that someone older than one person may be younger than another.

Elder vs Older

Elder is a noun as well as an adjective. It is used concerning people and cannot indicate relations between animals or objects.

And so, it is essential to have a thorough knowledge of similar-sounding words to use them correctly. Older is very similar to elder.

And due to its little bit of ordinary meaning, it gives the idea that using older in place of the elder can be correct. Older indicates that something has existed since before the object it is being compared to.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonElderOlder
Describe relationOlder can be used for humans, animals, and non-living things.Older is used to describe how long something has existed.
Used forElder is used for humans and not animals or other non-living things.Older can be used for humans, animals, as well as non-living things.
GrammarElder is a noun as well as an adjective.Older is an adjective.
Frequency of useElder is not a very commonly used word.Older is a very commonly used word.
ComparisonElder cannot be used to make comparisons.Older is used to make comparisons.

What is Elder?

Elder is used to describe someone who was born earlier or is of greater age. It is also sometimes used to convey an earlier time.

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The word is used to show relationships between humans. For example, the child born earlier will be regarded as the elder child.

And the child who was born after will be called the younger child. It is also sometimes used to mention someone in a superior post, like in office, rank, or even validity.

People who have been working at the same office for a longer duration are considered older workers of the office. This shows that the world elder also holds some respect whenever used.

Elder is a noun and is also regarded as an adjective. It cannot be used to determine relationships between animals, birds, or any nonliving object.

Sometimes elder is also used to denote someone with experience in a field or holds more power in a group. The term first came in use before the twelfth century as a noun and adjective. 

Some examples of the usage of elders are: Riya is Mohit’s elder sister; it is the duty of the elders of the family to guide the young ones.

older

What is Older?

The general meaning of the word older is that it is a comparative degree of old. This straightaway clarifies that older is used to denote something which has existed for a long time.

It is seen that the word older is used more frequently in daily life while talking or reading as compared to the word elder. Unlike elder, older is just an adjective and has originated from British English and has been in use since the 18 century.

Some even argue that the word old originated from Dutch or German. Older can be used to describe anything from a living being like a human, animal, bird, or even insect to inanimate objects like a building, an umbrella, or an ancient watch.

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Older is the comparative degree for old, whereas oldest is the superlative degree. Due to the convenience and flexibility of usage from living to non-living objects, the use of the word older is much more frequent than the use of elder.

‘One more thing that differentiates ‘older’ from ‘elder’ is that the latter cannot be used to make comparisons, whereas’‘older’ is specifically used to compare. ‘One more thing that differentiates ‘older’ from ‘elder’ is that the latter cannot be used to make comparisons, whereas ‘older’ is specifically used to compare.

‘Some examples of usage for the term’‘Older’ are: This building looks a lot older than I imagined; With each passing day, grandpa is getting older and older.’Some examples of usage for the term ‘Older’ are: This building looks a lot older than I imagined; With each passing day, Grandpa is getting older and older.

elder

Main Differences Between Elder and Older

  1. Elder is used to explain or pointing out family relations between two people, while older is used to describe that something has existed longer.
  2. Elder is a noun and adjective, whereas Older is just an adjective.
  3. Elder is commonly preferred for humans and not any other thing. Older can be used for people as well as animals and non-living things.
  4. Elder is not a frequently used term. On the other hand, Older is used much more frequently.
  5. ‘The word’‘Elde’’ cannot be used to make comparisons, while’‘Older’ can be easily used to make comparisons.’The word ‘Elder’ cannot be used for comparisons, while ‘Older’ can be easily used.
Difference Between Elder and Older
References
  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/6463070/
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J084v15n03_10

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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