Negative synonym of old.

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by franknagy, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. franknagy

    franknagy Senior Member

    Common words have synonyms with positive, neutral and negative secondary meaning.
    What is the adjective used instead of "old" in such contexts like
    a) my mother-in-law that old witch,
    b) when will this old idiot retire?

    In Hungarian the neutral synonym is "öreg", the negative matching in the bove example sentences is "vén".
  2. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek it's a very common colloquialism when someone wants to impair the usefulness or value of something, or debase a person.
    The neutral adj. is «παλαιός, -ά, -ό» [pale'os] (masc.), [pale'a] (fem.), [pale'o] (neut.) --> old, aged < Classical adj. «παλαιός, -ὰ, -όν» pălaiós (masc.), pălaià (fem.), pălaión (neut.) --> ancient, old, aged, venerable; it's an ancient word (Mycenaean syllabary *pa-ra-jo) with unclear etymology (from a possible PIE root *plh₂-).

    When «παλαιός» [pale'os] becomes the colloquialism «παλιός» [pa'ʎos] then its compound form «παλιο-» [paʎo-] carries with it a negative connotation, e.g:

    «παλιάνθρωπος» [pa'ʎanθropos] (masc.) = Compound form «παλιο-» + masc. noun «άνθρωπος» (man) --> lit. old man, what is really meant though is wrong 'un, bad lot
    «παλιόγρια» [pa'ʎoɣri.a] (fem.) = Compound form «παλιο-» + fem. noun «γριά» [ɣri'a] (old woman) --> lit. old-old woman, what is really meant though is hag, old b*tch
    «παλιόπαιδο» [pa'ʎopeðo] (neut.) = Compound form «παλιο-» + neut. noun «παιδί» [pe'ði] (child, kid) --> lit. old child, what is really meant though is brat, naughty kid.

    The same structure is used with inanimate objects or instruments, e.g:

    «παλιόσπιτο» [pa'ʎospito] (neut.) = Compound form «παλιο-» + neut. noun «σπίτι» ['spiti] (house) --> lit. old house, what is really meant though is slum.

    It's also used as emphasis in cursing words, e.g:

    «παλιομαλάκας» [paʎoma'lakas] (mas.) = Compound form «παλιο-» + masc. noun «μαλάκας» :warn:
  3. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I could imagine characterizing the person, but without referring explicitly to the age (like grumpy in English). As for 'young' I could imagine 'pril' (but not that positive) or 'fris' (fresh). There are words based on verbs, like worn in English: afgeleefd, afgetakeld (af- meaning de- in English, referring to energy decreasing, etc....
  4. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    老賊/老贼 lǎo zéi old bandit
    老不死 lǎo bù sǐ (hard to translate directly because of the special Chinese syntax - something like 'ageing has not succeeded in killing him/her')

    They are derived from the clause 幼而不孙弟,长而无述焉,老而不死是為賊/幼而不孫弟,長而無述焉,老而不死是为贼 from Confucius' Analects. (When you were young, you did not learn your manners; when you had grown, you achieved nothing; now that you are old, you are not dead; you are a bandit!)
  5. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    In Tagalog it is "Gurang".
  6. ESustad Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    English - (Minnesota)

    For men: geezer, codger, fossil.
    For women: hag, crone, biddie.

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