from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Relating to or having diminished cognitive function, as when memory is impaired, because of old age.
  • adjective Being a disease or condition whose cause is primarily advanced age.
  • adjective Geology At the end of an erosion cycle.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In physical geography, exhibiting features of old age in the geographical cycle: said of worn-flown land-forms.
  • Of, pertaining to, or characteristic of old age; proceeding from age; especially, pertaining to or proceeding from the weaknesses that usually attend old age: as, senile garrulity; senile petulance.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Of or pertaining to old age; proceeding from, or characteristic of, old age; affected with the infirmities of old age.
  • adjective (Med.) a form of gangrene occuring particularly in old people, and caused usually by insufficient blood supply due to degeneration of the walls of the smaller arteries.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Of, or relating to old age.
  • adjective Exhibiting the deterioration in mind and body often accompanying old age; doddering.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective mentally or physically infirm with age


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin senīlis, proper to or characteristic of old people, aged, from senex, sen-, old; see sen- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French senile, from Latin senīlis ("of or pertaining to old age"), from Latin senex ("old"), from Gaulish and Proto-Indo-European *sénos (“old”).


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  • In "senile old fool" the word senile for the masses means not old but demented. Syntax is the reason: In senile dementia, the meaning of the second term has "impregnated" the first term. Stoic grammarians (not the stolid guys) actually called the phenomenon "pregnancy". Other useful terms for it: transferred epithet, adventitious association, adequation...

    March 11, 2012