From Middle English oldnesse, from Old English ealdnes, ealdnyss (oldness; age), equivalent to old +‎ -ness.



oldness (usually uncountable, plural oldnesses)

  1. The state of being old; age.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, “xviij”, in Le Morte Darthur, book XVII:
      So that I may reste bitwene thyn armes
      for thow arte a clene vyrgyn aboue all knyghtes as the floure of the lyly
      in whome vyrgynyte is sygnefyed
      and thou arte the rose the whiche is the floure of al good vertu
      & in coloure of fyre
      For the fyre of the holy ghoost is take so in the
      that my flesshe which was al dede of oldenes
      is become yonge ageyne
    • c. 1605, William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act I, Scene 2,[1]
      This policy and reverence of age makes the world bitter to the best of our times; keeps our fortunes from us till our oldness cannot relish them.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Romans 7:6,[2]
      But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
    • 1795, Testimony at the trial of Sarah Sims for grand larceny at the Old Bailey, London, 20 May, 1795,[3]
      I know it to be the property that the child wore at the time that I missed her, by the oldness of it, and the mending of it. I have not the least doubt about it.
    • 1922, Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt, Chapter 19, III,[4]
      [] once away from the familiar implications of home, they were two men together. Ted was young only in his assumption of oldness, and the only realms, apparently, in which Babbitt had a larger and more grown-up knowledge than Ted’s were the details of real estate and the phrases of politics.