Eldest vs Oldest: Difference and Comparison

Eldest and Oldest are used to determine seniority in terms of age, but the contexts of usage for both are pretty different. Knowing the exact differences between the words and their usage is essential.

Key Takeaways

  1. Eldest refers to the firstborn or earliest in a sequence among siblings; oldest describes the highest age or the longest duration of existence.
  2. Eldest is used exclusively for people within a family context; oldest can be applied to people, objects, or concepts.
  3. Both eldest and oldest indicate seniority or precedence, but eldest is specific to sibling relationships, while oldest has broader applications.

Eldest vs Oldest

The term “eldest” refers to someone who is the oldest among siblings or related individuals. “Oldest” is a more general term and can be used to refer to the seniority of a person, object, or idea in any group, not strictly limited to familial relationships.

Eldest vs Oldest

Both terms are superlative adjectives, as absolute attributes of an individual, a group, or a community. These denote seniority in age and birth order.



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  1. Geeta is the eldest of eight siblings.
  2. The eldest lawyer in our firm will retire tomorrow.
  3. The Akkadian Empire is the oldest in the world.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonEldestOldest
DefinitionEldest determines the absolute seniority of a person in a group or a community. They have to be related in some way.The oldest determines the absolute seniority of people or things, whether related or unrelated.
Root WordThe root word of Eldest is Elder, which is itself a comparative adjective.The root word of Oldest is Old which is a positive adjective.
PlacementIt is used before a noun. The noun has to represent people.It is also used before nouns, but the noun can be a person or a thing.
UsageIt is used as an age attribute for people. It cannot be used for unrelated persons or things. It can’t be used for absolutes in the world.It is an age attribute for people as well as things. It is used for absolutes in the world.
Examples1)She’s the eldest in the family.

2)Her eldest brother is 77 years old.
1) Akkadian Empire is the oldest empire discovered to date.

2) I am the oldest among my cousins.


Who is Eldest?

Eldest most commonly refers to a person born at the earliest or most significant age among a group of people.

Eldest is used when the people in consideration are related, maybe a family or a small community.

It is an attribute to denote the seniority of someone and is, therefore, an adjective. It is used to indicate the person whose age is the highest. Hence, it is a superlative adjective.

The root form of Eldest is Elder, which itself is a comparative adjective. Eldest is always used before a noun as a detail or a characteristic.

For example,

  1. She’s her eldest sister.
  2. Ram is the eldest of all the cousins.
  3. The king’s eldest son would succeed to the throne after the king’s death.

Who is Oldest?

Oldest refers to someone more senior than any other person or thing in that category. It can be used to compare people, things, or ages (like the stone age is the most senior age in the periodization of history) and whether they are related.

Eldest can’t be used for absolutes; only oldest can be used in case of absolutes of the world. For example, “She is the oldest lady alive”.

It is a superlative adjective and has its root in ‘old’. It determines the absolute seniority of people or things in a group or community.

It can be used for theories, ideas, formulas, methods, monuments, cities,  or infrastructure. For example,

  1. Mercantilism is the oldest theory of Economics.
  2. The Arkadiko bridge is the oldest in the world.
  3. This is the oldest living tiger in India.

Main Differences Between Eldest and Oldest

  1. Eldest is used to denote seniority among related people. In contrast, Oldest indicates seniority and antiquity among people or things (like kingdoms, infrastructure, monuments, etc.) that may be related or unrelated. Oldest is used to determine whether the considered objects were contemporary or ancient to align the ages of various entities.
  2. Eldest is constructed from the root word ‘Elder’, a comparative adjective, while Oldest is derived from ‘Old’, a Positive Adjective.
  3. Both are used before nouns to describe their age attribute, but Eldest is used for only selective nouns that represent people, while Oldest can be used for all the nouns (whether it be people or thing)
  4. Eldest is used for related groups (like families or companies) of people only, while Oldest is used for related or unrelated groups of people or things. Only the Oldest is used to denote absolute superlatives of an entire country or a world.
  5. For example, I am the eldest among my siblings. Or She’s the oldest lady alive.
Difference Between Eldest and Oldest
  1. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/old
  2. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/eldest
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