AskDefine | Define elder

Dictionary Definition

elder adj
1 used of the older of two persons of the same name especially used to distinguish a father from his son; "Bill Adams, Sr." [syn: older, sr.]
2 older brother or sister; "big sister" [syn: big(a), older] [ant: little(a)]


1 a person who is older than you are [syn: senior]
2 any of numerous shrubs or small trees of temperate and subtropical northern hemisphere having white flowers and berrylike fruit [syn: elderberry bush]
3 any of various church officers

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1



  • (UK) /ˈɛldə/, /"Eld@/
  • (US) /ˈɛldɚ/, /"Eld@`/
    Rhymes: -ɛldə(r)


  1. Comparative of old; greater than another in age or seniority.
    • The elder of the two was also an elder-statesman

Etymology 2



  1. An older person or an older member, usually a leader, of some community.
    We were presented to the village elder.
  2. An officer of a church, sometimes having teaching responsibilities
  3. The lowest office in the Melchizedek priesthood.
    After being a member of the Church for a while, Bill was ordained to the office of elder.
  4. One ordained to the office of elder.
    Jack had been an elder for only a few days when he received a new calling.
  5. Male missionary, title for a male missionary; title for a general authority.
    The elders are coming over for dinner tonight.
    One of the long-time leaders in the Church is Elder Packer.
  6. A small tree of the genus Sambucus having white flowers in a cluster, and purple berries.
  7. In the context of "paganism": A priest or priestess in the modern pagan tradition known as Asatru or Heathenry.
Derived terms
older member or leader of a community
Melchizedek priesthood office, missionary, title
small tree




Extensive Definition

Elder is a surname. It may also refer to "older people" or to:
In religion:
In places:
In nature:
  • Elder or Elderberry (Sambucus), genus of between 5-30 species of fast-growing shrubs or small trees
  • Box Elder, Acer negundo, North American species of maple
  • Yellow Elder, the Yellow Trumpetbush (Tecoma stans)
In fiction:
In other uses:

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Aaronic priesthood, Bible clerk, Bible reader, Establishment, Father Time, Melchizedek priesthood, Methuselah, Nestor, Old Paar, Seventy, VIP, acolyte, age, alderman, almoner, anagnost, ancestors, antecedent, antecedents, antediluvian, anterior, anticipatory, antique, apostle, archon, ascendants, authority, back number, bailie, baron, beadle, bedral, big gun, big man, big name, bigwig, bishop, boss, brass, brass hat, burghermaster, burgomaster, bwana, cabinet member, cabinet minister, caducity, capitular, capitulary, celebrity, centenarian, chancellor, chef, chief, choir chaplain, church dignitary, churchwarden, ci-devant, city councilman, city father, city manager, clerk, commissar, commissioner, conservative, councillor, councilman, councilwoman, county commissioner, county supervisor, dad, deacon, deaconess, dean, dignitary, dignity, doctor, dodo, dotard, doyen, doyenne, earlier, early, ecclesiarch, elder statesman, elderliness, elderman, elders, eldest, employer, experienced, father, fathers, figure, first, first-born, firstling, fogy, fore, forebears, forefathers, foregoing, former, fossil, fud, fuddy-duddy, gaffer, geezer, golden-ager, goodman, gramps, grandfather, grandfathers, grandparents, grandsire, granny, graybeard, great man, great soul, guru, has-been, headman, high priest, husband, illuminate, important person, induna, intellect, intellectual, interests, lay elder, lay reader, lector, lecturer, legislator, liege, liege lord, lion, longhair, lord, lord mayor, lord paramount, lords of creation, lover of wisdom, magistrate, magnate, mahatma, maire, major, man of intellect, man of mark, man of wisdom, mandarin, master, mastermind, matriarch, mayor, mentor, mid-Victorian, minister, minister of state, mogul, mossback, nabob, name, nonagenarian, notability, notable, octogenarian, old age, old believer, old chap, old codger, old crock, old dodo, old dog, old duffer, old fogy, old geezer, old gent, old gentleman, old liner, old man, old party, old poop, old woman, old-timer, older, oldest, oldster, oracle, overlord, padrone, panjandrum, pantaloon, paramount, parish clerk, paterfamilias, patriarch, patriarchs, patron, person of renown, personage, personality, philosopher, pillar of society, pop, pops, portreeve, power, power elite, preceding, precentor, precurrent, predecessors, preexistent, presbyter, previous, priest, prime, primogenitary, prior, progenitors, rabbi, reactionary, reader, reeve, regular old fogy, relic, respected, rishi, ruling circle, ruling elder, sachem, sacrist, sacristan, sage, sahib, sapient, savant, scholar, secretary, secretary of state, seer, seigneur, seignior, selectman, senectitude, senescence, senior, senior citizen, septuagenarian, sexagenarian, sexton, shames, sidesman, sire, somebody, something, square, starets, succentor, suisse, superior, supervisor, syndic, teacher, teaching elder, the great, the quiet-voiced elders, the top, thinker, thurifer, top brass, top people, traditionalist, tycoon, undersecretary, venerable, venerable sir, verger, vergeress, very important person, veteran, warden, wise man, wise old man, worthy, years
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