Old: deteriorated through age or long use; worn, decayed, or dilapidated

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Xavier da Silva

Senior Member
Hello everyone,

I searched all dictionaries online and also Google ("in context" option here), but I couldn't find any example sentences to clarify it specifically. My question: does "old" (= deteriorated through age or long use; worn, decayed, or dilapidated; no longer useful - Thefreedictionary) sound natural/correct in the examples I made below?

a. Why did you throw that razor away? 'It was old.' I couldn't shave with it.
b. I'll will buy a new cellphone. This one is too old. I can barely hear what other people say when they call me.
c. Mom, can I use this paintbrush? 'No, don't use it. It's old. It might damage the pictures. Use this one here.'

Thank you in advance!
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    They all sound reasonably natural, and linguistically correct, but not politically correct. They reflect what is wrong with our throw-away consumer society. :)
     

    Xavier da Silva

    Senior Member
    Thank you for your answer.

    They all sound reasonably natural, and linguistically correct, but not politically correct. They reflect what is wrong with our throw-away consumer society
    But I'm still not sure if can or cannot use "old" in the examples above. Especially because of "not politically correct".

    Let's wait for other answers.
     
    Last edited:

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I don't think the question has anything to do with political correctness. I think the problem is that "old", depending on the item, may or may not be a suitable reason to replace it. In none of your examples does "old" actually explain the reason for replacement.

    The fact that the razor was old doesn't say why the owner can't shave with it.

    Similarly, a cell phone's age doesn't necessarily lower the volume; the fact that the owner can barely hear through it is the reason for replacement, not the phone's age.

    I have many old paintbrushes; I've carefully cleaned them after each use, and they can still be used to paint pictures. Again, their age doesn't dictate any need to discard them and buy new ones.
     

    Xavier da Silva

    Senior Member
    Thank you for the answer.

    I understand your point.

    Would it make sense if I added a clear/suitable reason?

    a. Why did you throw that razor away? 'It was old.' I couldn't shave with it. It was blunt.
    b. I'll will buy a new cellphone. This one is too old. I can barely hear what other people say when they call me. It is not working right.
    c. Mom, can I use this paintbrush? 'No, don't use it. It's old. It might damage the pictures because it's too rough (uneven). Use this one here.'
    P.S.: I really would like to learn how to use "old" in this context. Please help me.

    Thank you in advance!
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    We have to be worried about the feelings of razors, cell phones and paintbrushes now and be insulted on their behalf? Paintbrushes are not offended when you call them old (or bristly).
    Nothing to do with hurting feelings of inanimate objects. It's about environmental issues, dontcha know. We should all frown a little more on throwing perfectly good stuff out just because it's old.

    It was a joke, sorry if it caused confusion.

    Xavier, as Parla said in #4, the explanations you have in your original examples are to a large extent non-sequiturs.
    For some people, if stuff is old that is reason enough to replace it, it doesn't matter if it's still usable or not. So it would suffice to leave out your explanations if they don't really justify the decision.
    Your additional explanations in #5 do give good reasons, but they would be enough on their own, without needing to mention that the item is old. But perhaps age is also a reason, and then perhaps it might be good to make this clear.

    I'm getting a new phone. Mine isn't working properly any more, but also it's so old that I feel embarrassed using it in front of my friends who all have the latest Androws Earphone 7, while mine looks like a communicator from the very first Star Trek series -- positively pre-historic!
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Nothing to do with hurting feelings of inanimate objects. It's about environmental issues, dontcha know. We should all frown a little more on throwing perfectly good stuff out just because it's old.
    Environmental awareness and political correctness are different things to me. Enjoy your painting full of bristles that fell out of your old paintbrush while you were painting. Things really do get old. Being polite about it doesn't make it not so.
     

    Xavier da Silva

    Senior Member
    Thank you very much.

    So it would suffice to leave out your explanations if they don't really justify the decision.
    a. Why did you throw that razor away? 'It was old.'
    b. I'll will buy a new cellphone. This one is too old.
    c. Mom, can I use this paintbrush? 'No, don't use it. It's old.

    Maybe it makes more sense now.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I suspect the fact that some of the above discussion has gone the way it has, means that using the word 'old' in this way is going to make some (many?) listeners think first of age only, and not of worn/decayed/etc. For this reason, I would say it's better not to use 'old' in this way at all, and just say:

    a. Why did you throw that razor away? 'It was blunt.'
    b. I'll will buy a new cellphone. This one is no longer working properly.'
    c. Mom, can I use this paintbrush? 'No, don't use it. Its bristles are starting to fall out.'
     

    Xavier da Silva

    Senior Member
    Thank you for your answer.

    I'm really surprised by this final answer. In Portuguese, it's perfectly natural to say:

    Why did you throw that razor away? 'It was old.' / I'll will buy a new cellphone. This one is too old. / Mom, can I use this paintbrush? 'No, don't use it. It's old.
    The original definition of "old" from Thefreedictionary "deteriorated through age or long use; worn, decayed, or dilapidated; no longer useful" says it exists in English, but...

    It believe it might be a cultural/ideological thing that I'll have to learn about the English language in this case.
     
    Last edited:

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    For this reason, I would say it's better not to use 'old' in this way at all,
    The sentence explaining why your 100-year-old great-grandmother no longer drives a car might go on for days. "Old" conveniently encapsulates multiple problems that might be caused by age and use. The razor is blunt and bent and clogged and ... It's old.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    The age (old) is an indicator that certain age related deterioration has occurred. But usually it is not the age that makes the thing unusable as Edinburgher pointed out. And old is sometimes good.

    Is this cheese still green? No it is old, ripe and ready to eat.
    That worker seems very old. You cannot get 40 years of experience in a 20 year old worker.
    That table looks old. It should look old, it is a valuable antique.
     
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