Positive Word for Old

Having a hard time finding a suitable positive word for old?

Here are a few suitable words you can use that don’t have the negative connotation of the word old. However, do keep in mind that age can be a sensitive subject and no matter which word you use. Even the best of these words still carries some amount of baggage with it since English-speaking societies generally favor the young.

Elderly: A nicer way of saying old without the negativity attached with just saying “you’re an old man”. Nevertheless, you are still calling someone elderly and to say that is to imply that they are quite aged. This can be also be seen in a negative light because it is the word most often used in medical situations, for example: “the most probable reason for death in an elderly person is cardiovascular disease”.

Senior: Similar to the above. Used in medical situations and due to overuse, they know that you’re calling them old. It’s still a bit more positive though.

Aged: Better than old, but not much better. Yes, they are aged like a fine cheese, but they’re still aged.

Decrepit, ancient, fossil: Come on.

Venerable: Maybe in Japanese society this would work quite well, but in the English-speaking world you’re just going to pour more salt into the wound with such a presumptuous word. They will know you are trying to please them and it will often have the opposite effect.

Septuagenarian, octogenarian, nonagenarian: Jackpot. One of the best words you can use for the old because it implies that reaching a certain age is an achievement. If you call your grandma a nonagenarian she is more likely to feel that reaching 90 is a badge of honor. These words are also relatively uncommon on day-to-day situations so they have a bigger punch.

A few nice ways to tell your relative that he or she is old:

  • I can’t believe you’ve reached eighty—you’re an octogenarian!

  • Did you know that being a nonagenarian is really uncommon? You’ve been in this world for a long time!

  • I guess you need need ten more years to become a centenarian!

  • Keep going. At this rate, you’ll be a centenarian.

  • Wow, mom. You’re a septuagenarian!