old people or older/elder people?

Garbuz

Senior Member
Russian
Here is the sentence I'm translating into English.

Many old people prefer to live by themselves.

I have a feeling that 'old people' sounds somewhat rough. Should I replace it with 'older people', or 'elder people', or 'elderly people'? Is there any difference between them?

Thanks in advance.
 
  • zafferano

    New Member
    English - England
    You could use 'elderly people' which is often considered politer than 'old people'. I've never seen 'elder people' actually used in that sense, and 'older people' has a looser meaning - it could mean people older than, say, teenagers, and not necessarily elderly. If that makes sense :S
     

    madsh33p

    Senior Member
    English - UK, German - Germany
    I don't think "old" is wrong, but depending on who will read what you are writing, it could be perceived as a bit too strong or even insulting. (Some people are quite sensitive in that matter)

    I would use "elderly" instead, but it depends what age group you are talking about. It might be 'safer' to write something like "many people over 65..." etc.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    'Elderly' is better than 'older' which is better than 'old' but does have that "older than what?" ambiguity. English doesn't use 'elder' in this way as in "elder people" or "elder home", but it can be used on its own as a uncountable noun - 'the elderly'- like ' the homeless' or ' the poor'.
    Speaking as one of them, I can't really see any need to be 'safer' by specifying an age.

    :)
    Hermione
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It depends on the wider context, and on the audience.

    Although "older people" is a very loosely-defined term, it is readily understood in most contexts, and perhaps no more imprecise than "old people" or "elderly people". It is free from the negative sense that many associate with "old" or "elderly". For example, I would not mind being described as one of the "older members" of a group, but I would chuck my zimmer at someone who described me as an "old member" or "elderly member".

    If it is necessary to be more precise then you should use a more precise term.
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Oh, I've just remembered ... :)
    I took part in a community arts event last week, entitled Spring Chickens. I'm not suggesting that as the answer to the question, but from the publicity for the events:
    ... its innovative work with older people.
    ... within the older community...
    ... and supporting older people...
     

    madsh33p

    Senior Member
    English - UK, German - Germany
    Oh, I've just remembered ... :)
    I took part in a community arts event last week, entitled Spring Chickens. I'm not suggesting that as the answer to the question, but from the publicity for the events:
    ... its innovative work with older people.
    ... within the older community...
    ... and supporting older people...
    "older" does sound best in this context. I disagree with my earlier post ;-)

    However, it does depend on context and audience. What I was thinking of, when I said it would be 'safer' to maybe specify age, is that often you hear "young folks" talk about "old people" when they are talking about 40 year olds.
    Without further context, I assumed the general statement in the original post to refer to 65 and up - an age group that is quite commonly referred to as elderly (in the road my grandparents live on there is a sign warning of "elderly people") - eventhough I personally don't think of 65 as elderly, but I guess that is up to the individual.

    As panjandrum points out, the intended audience is an important factor, especially in this case.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Here in the eastern US, an area from which you haven't yet heard, I'd say that "senior citizen"--which generally refers to anyone over age 65 and thus eligible for Social Security and Medicare--is in disfavor among people in that age group.

    And as prior respondents have warned, don't use "old".

    "Elderly," I think, has a connotation of fragility and extreme age, despite the fact that news reports often use it to describe anyone over 50 or 60, especially if the person has been the victim of an accident or crime ("the speeding car struck an elderly man..." or "an elderly woman was robbed on her way home"), who turns out to be perhaps 62 years old. Such a person may of course be strong and healthy.

    In my opinion, the best choice is "older".
     

    amby

    Banned
    chinese
    What is the common way to refer to aged people ?

    Old people, elderly people, and seniours- are these words interchangeably used with the same meaing?
     

    acme_54

    Senior Member
    English UK
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with "old people/older people/the elderly/the aged"... And other options include "senior citizens"...

    [Edited: Russian text removed from English Only forum. DonnyB - moderator]
     
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