Saturday, May 16, 2009

Senior citizens are also known as ...

Senior Citizens are also known as …


As one associated the cause of senior citizens for a number of years I have come across different words that refer to the aged people.  I would like to give a quick run down of a few such terms for the benefit of budding gerontologists as that would help them in literature searches.  Following table lists words and phrases that are synonymous to each other.



Words denoting Senior Citizens

Baby boomers

Geezers  - An old person, especially an eccentric old man. Derogatory usage

Oldies –a lot to do with appreciation of music of certain period.

Older persons - Government of India's preferred term for senior citizens.

Elders and elderly (respectful)

Senior citizens - Politest term devoid any contempt

Retirees -one who has retired from active life

Retired persons -  One who has retied from active serve

Pensioners - Those who get a monthly subsistence after retirement

Veterans - Ex service men in the USA

Old timer -  used earlier for old people.

Oldster  - slightly uncommon derisive word

Golden ager – just Older person


Senesced -to reach later maturity; grow old


Ex-servicemen -one who has served the armed forces for a number of years

Old hang – highly experienced old person

Old stager - someone who has seen many battles & wars


According to  Old is the bluntest of the adjectives most commonly used in referring to advanced or advancing age. It generally suggests at least a degree of age-related infirmity, and for that reason it is often avoided in formal or polite speech. Many prefer elderly as a more neutral and respectful term, but it too can suggest frailty, especially in reference to individuals as opposed to a group or population. And while senior enjoys wide usage as both a noun and adjective in many civic or social contexts, it is often considered unpleasantly euphemistic in a phrase such as the senior couple living next door.

 As a comparative form, older would logically seem to indicate greater age than old. Except when a direct comparison is being made, however, the opposite is generally true. The older man in the tweed jacket suggests a somewhat younger or more vigorous man than if one substitutes old or elderly. Where old expresses an absolute, an arrival at old age, older takes a more relative view of aging as a continuum—older, but not yet old. As such, older is more than just a euphemism for the blunter old, offering as it does a more precise term for someone between middle and advanced age. And unlike elderly, older does not particularly suggest frailness or infirmity, making it the natural choice in many situations.

The world Elder merely means "older than" not necessarily 'old'. But ELDERS and the elderly refer to senior citizens with some respect implied.  Unlike elder and its related forms, the adjectives old, older, and oldest are applied to things as well as to persons.

Baby boomers:  In the US there was sudden (predictable?!) boom in babies after the war. The period 1946 to 1964 witnessed maximum number of births. In the 1990s, approximately 76 million people in the United States were born in the baby boom years, representing approximately 29% of the country's population. America being a market and consumer driven nation took special note of this segment of population for their special needs. Hence the category baby boomers.

It would be interesting to do similar comparisons in other languages as well. If readers have useful inputs they may share it with all via comments.





  1. I left a comment on this paper - blog post - of dec 2016

  2. Learnt additional words like: crone, old fart, old coot, older adult etc. My preference is to learn positive words. I use comments on my own post to improve the post at a later date.