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  1. #1
    Ducklet Cat's Avatar
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    Question Oldest vs. Eldest

    Hi,

    What is the difference between oldest and eldest?

    Should I say this is my eldest brother or my oldest brother?

    Thanks :)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Oldest vs. Eldest

    Not a teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by Ducklet Cat View Post
    Hi,

    What is the difference between oldest and eldest?

    Should I say this is my eldest brother or my oldest brother?

    Thanks :)
    'Eldest' can be used ONLY of people, but 'oldest' can be used for anything, i.e. people, animals, things, etc.
    Eldest" may be used to emphasize rank or seniority while 'oldest' does not do this, and does not need to emphasize age. 'Eldest' is also used in comparing a group:
    "my eldest son" or "the eldest of my three sons")
    However, "oldest" can be used in a more absolute sense ("the oldest man alive").
    'Older' and 'oldest' are used of people or things, but 'elder' and 'eldest' are used only of people, and only for members of the same family.
    e.g.
    "Dave is older than my cousin."
    "John is the oldest man in the organization."
    "Sam is Sally's elder brother."
    "I have three sons; Paul is the eldest."

    There is no real semantic difference between the two, but by common convention, "eldest" is used strictly with respect to people, while "oldest" can be used in reference to any object including people.

    So,
    'Elder' cannot be used in comparisons: "Jane is older than Mary." (not 'elder than')
    Last edited by paochai01; 21-Aug-2008 at 00:49.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Oldest vs. Eldest

    Hello,

    Eldest (and elder) have only been used, as far as I know, to refer to seniority -born earlier- within one family; my eldest brother would be OK.

    According to the OED, eldest and elder are being replaced by oldest and older.

  4. #4
    Ducklet Cat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oldest vs. Eldest

    Thanks a lot. :)

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