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

  • adj. Of, relating to, or characteristic of old age.
  • adj. Relating to or exhibiting memory loss or mental impairment associated with aging.
  • adj. Geology Worn away nearly to the base level, as at the end of an erosion cycle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to old age; proceeding from, or characteristic of, old age; affected with the infirmities of old age.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • In physical geography, exhibiting features of old age in the geographical cycle: said of worn-flown land-forms.

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

  • adj. mentally or physically infirm with age


Latin senīlis, from senex, sen-, old.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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”). (Wiktionary)



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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