Difference Between Elder and Older - Ask Any Difference

Difference Between Elder and Older

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.

Elder vs Older

The main difference between Elder and Older is that elder is used with respect to only people or, more precisely, humans, whereas older can be used for people, animals, and even non-living objects. Both the words have very different usage and differ from each other on a lot of bases. 

Elder and Older

Elder is a noun as well as an adjective. It is used with reference to people and cannot be used for indicating relations between animals or even objects. And so, it is important to have a thorough knowledge of similar-sounding words in order to use them correctly.

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

Comparison Table Between Elder and Older

Parameters of ComparisonElderOlder
Describe relationElder is used to describing family relations between two people.Older is used to describe how long something has existed.
Used forElder is generally 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 describe an earlier time. The word is often used for showing relationships between humans. For example, the child who was 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 who is on a superior post like in office, rank, or even validity. People who have been working at the same office for a longer duration of time are considered as elder 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 sort of nonliving object. Sometimes elder is also used to denote someone who has 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 as an adjective too. 

Some examples of 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.

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 has 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.

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.

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.

Main Differences Between Elder and Older

  1. Elder is used to explaining or pointing out family relations between two people, while older is used to describe that something has existed longer.
  2. Elder is a noun as well as an 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 ‘Elder’ cannot be used to make comparisons, while ‘Older’ can be easily used to make comparisons.


There are many more words in the English language that sound similar and have almost the same spelling but have different meanings or sometimes even similar meanings but different usage. To understand the correct way of using the vocabulary, one needs to have a thorough knowledge of the language. This can be achieved by making grammar strong and practising reading and speaking the language quite often. In the case of elder and older the towards even had almost the same meaning but they cannot be used in place of each other all the time. There are obviously some exceptions where older can be used in place of elder but not vice versa.


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