elder sisters ?

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texasweed

Banned
French-born/US English
Hi everyone ! I have a problem with the term "elder sisters" in the case of one being deceased as a baby...

....Shakespeare was born and raised in the family home, in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Joan and Margaret, his elder sisters, sadly didn't survive the Bubonic Plague.

Can this be used here, considering that Joan died at barely 2 months of age ?

Any feedback welcome and thanks in advance.
 
  • Isotta

    Senior Member
    English, Hodgepodge
    It's fine to say "elder sisters" because they were born before him. Doesn't matter when they died.

    Z.
     

    E-J

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Hi texasweed

    The first definition of elder listed in Encarta is "born earlier" - which would definitely make it acceptable in the context you describe:
    http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/dictionary/DictionaryResults.aspx?refid=1861672830

    The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, however, doesn't offer this definition, suggesting that it means "of a greater age": http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/elder_1?view=uk

    So the jury seems to be out. I would say, though, that it's acceptable, on the grounds that the family relationship of "sister" still holds true, even if the siblings' lifetimes did not overlap.
     

    texasweed

    Banned
    French-born/US English
    I came accross that definition ("of a greater age") which is why I had some doubt. Thank you both for settling it !
     
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