Marketing Ageism / Ageist Marketing
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Cast Your Vote in the Old Age Name Game

Jill Fallon of Legacy Matters left this comment on my post about Getting Over Getting Older in which resurrecting the word “elder” was discussed:

“I like the idea of reclaiming the world 'elder,'" wrote Jill, "even though I don't think it fits me or other people in the 50-70 stage which today seems to be late middle age. I prefer older to elder because it includes more people.”

My respect for Jill and her blog knows no bounds, but on this we disagree. It only takes a letter or two to make a difference in a word. “Elderly” feels frail to me. “Elder”, on the other hand, is a fine old word that has fallen into disuse and at age 64, I am comfortable with it, even proud to wear it. It is worth wondering if some people’s rejection of elder (not to imply that it is Jill’s reason) reflects the culture’s abhorrence of aging...

There are many words for “old” which can be positive, pejorative and points in-between. So it might be fun to see how TGB readers rank them in terms of preference.

Below is a poll containing some of the more common words used for old people. They are listed alphabetically to avoid any bias that might ensue from my personal ordering of the names. If you have other thoughts or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Select your favorites (multiple choices are allowed) and see how they compare.

What are your favorite words to describe old people?
Mature Person
Old / Older
Senior Citizen
Free polls from

[See also Name Game Poll Results]


Hi, Ronni!
As I think about some of the choices... greybeard is arguably sexist, and pensioners and retirees are not necessarily elders.
Mature person assumes both age and maturity.
I think I'm going to stick with being just a guy.

When one sees the choices, elder sounds pretty darn good!

Doesn't anyone use "the aged" anymore? for good or for evil? I think it's more exact than pensioner, retiree, mature, or greybeard. It refers only to the accumulation of years. Any baggage you hang on the term, you're bringing with you. I think along the lines of fine wine...deep, smooth, mellow and rich.

For me the least offensive term in the list is senior. Bonus, it's the one word that has a youth counterpart than can be used in a derogatory way. Right, junior?

Since my obvious choice of "you ol' heifer" is not amongst the list, I shall sallie forth with my second and third selections *grin*

Well, I feel like I got to the party late, since i've been traveling, not blogging today, so here's a bit more on why I prefer older to elder. Older covers everyone. Elder I see more as a term of respect for wisdom and hard-won experience and not everyone deserves it. It could be that I've just read too many books or that I'm a querulous biddy arguing with a cranky old lady. Do I have to start calling you Elder Lady?

Ronni, I'll pass on the vote for the moment... elder has possibilities but against these choices, I'm wondering if there might be something else... thinking cap is on... I'll be back...

Ronni, I'll pass on the vote for the moment... elder has possibilities but against these choices, I'm wondering if there might be something else... thinking cap is on... I'll be back...

Traditionally, elders had a well respected role in the community and for me the word implies wisdom. Personally, I tend to say "at this point in my life" or "as a mature person" or "person of maturity." I'm working up to "elder," but I also feel I need to deserve it. Some of the women in my community use and are reclaiming the word "crone." I had a post last month about me and my women friends going out together and refered to us as "cohorts."

PS: I love the new graphic for blogging rights! I want one!

Old/older is just fine. Perhaps I'm sensitive about age, but most of the others just sound assisted living type monikers.

I voted for "Senior."

I was taught by my parents to "respect my elders".

The word elder makes me think of someone with high rank in religious organizations.

How about "ripe"? It has a delicious sound to it.

How about separating the choices of old and older: "I'm an old lady" vs "I'm and older lady." I also prefer being an older adult.

Am always reminded of my Mom when in her 80's playing Scrabble with friends of same or older years ... I would overhear them talking about "that old lady, or old man down the street" as though those folks(in the same age group) were different from Mom & her friends.

Still think "elder" is distinguished, but should be reserved for the 80 and above who have gained real wisdom. We should save one word with class for them (and me, when I get there, 'cause I'm still learning!)

Really enjoy the dialogue on this subject. Thanks, Ronni!

I didn't mean to be so mysterious. That was me who posted with no name above (traditionally...). Maybe I forgot to type in my name? This is a test.

I didn't vote because I didn't like any of the choices. Here is what things I like to be called.


I might get arguments about this in a few years, but I'm 55 and people are going along with it for now!

Your post today (Name Game Poll Results) and its sign-off line re Biddy made me think...
For me, as with many 'isms' and their associated 'hot' words, it is the delivery in tone, context, and body-language, that often tells me how the word is meant to be taken (not withstanding that it is the listener who ultimately discerns their feeling on each case in turn - even when the speaker is talking about themselves).
Most noted for me is the manner in which some minorities are choosing to reclaim their 'school-yard' taunted names and wear them such that they no longer wound but are badges of honour. An interesting phenomenon.

I like cheri's Goddess

I refer to myself
as a sirenic crone
because I am a siren
and a crone

crone to me
signifies wisdom as well
as older

not a hag, mind you,
a crone . . .

one of the triple goddesses
of maiden, mother, crone

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