English Idioms: Age-Related Idioms Explained Simply

Hello everyone,

Have you ever heard someone say, “You can’t teach an old dog a new trick” or refer to a young person as a “spring chicken?”

Idioms like these that relate to age are used all the time in the English language.

An idiom is a phrase that has a figurative meaning different from the literal meanings of the individual words.

Today, we’re going to take a look at 25 common idioms about age and explain what they mean.

Some relate to being young, others to being old, and many compare age differences.

Understanding these idioms will help expand your English vocabulary in a fun and interesting way.

Let’s get started!

1. Like a Spring Chicken

Meaning: Seemingly young, energetic and inexperienced
Example: Even though he’s 65 years old, my grandfather acts like a spring chicken, always wanting to go out and have fun.

2. Wet Behind the Ears

Meaning: Someone who is very young and inexperienced
Example: You can’t expect the new intern to know everything – he’s still wet behind the ears when it comes to this job.

3. Elderly

Meaning: Polite way of saying someone is old or aging
Example: The elderly woman struggled to cross the street with her cane.

4. Over the Hill

Meaning: Too old, beyond your prime years
Example: Tom may be over the hill, but he can still play baseball better than most!

5. Long in the Tooth

Meaning: Getting too old for something
Example: That car is long in the tooth – you should start looking for a new one soon.

6. Cradle snatcher

Meaning: Someone who pursues partners much younger than themselves
Example: The tabloids called the 60-year-old actor a cradlesnatcher for dating women in their 20s.

7. Robbing the Cradle

Meaning: When an older person dates someone very young
Example: Marrying someone half your age? Aren’t you robbing the cradle a little?

8. Geezer

Meaning: An old man, generally said in a playful way
Example: Hey there, geezer, need any help carrying those groceries?

9. Whippersnapper

Meaning: A young person who acts overconfident or cheeky
Example: Listen here, you little whippersnapper – show some respect for your elders!

10. Diaper Dandy

Meaning: Someone who achieved fame or success at a very young age
Example: That tennis player is a real diaper dandy, turning pro when she was only 15!

11. Sow Your Wild Oats

Meaning: To do some youthful misbehaving before settling down
Example: Jake needs to sow his wild oats before thinking about marriage and kids.

12. Old as the Hills

Meaning: Extremely old
Example: This castle is old as the hills – its foundations date back nearly a thousand years!

13. Get Long in the Tooth

Meaning: To become old and less capable
Example: I’m getting a bit long in the tooth for skydiving these days.

14. Set in Your Ways

Meaning: Stubbornly adherent to habits and routines due to old age
Example: My grandfather is pretty set in his ways after 80 years – he doesn’t like change.

15. Old-Timer

Meaning: Someone who has been doing something for a very long time
Example: Ask Joe about fishing in this lake – he’s a real old-timer around here.

16. Knee-High to a Grasshopper

Meaning: Very small or young
Example: When I was knee-high to a grasshopper, my biggest worry was losing a tooth!

17. The Wrong Side of…

Meaning: To be older than a certain age that is deemed too old
Example: Once you’re on the wrong side of 40, having kids gets much harder.

18. Ripe Old Age

Meaning: A very advanced age that few people reach
Example: Uncle Murray lived to the ripe old age of 97 before passing away.

19. Born Yesterday

Meaning: Someone who is very naïve or inexperienced
Example: Claire wasn’t born yesterday – she could see right through his lies.

20. Grow Long in the Tooth

Meaning: To show signs of becoming old or aging
Example: These tires are really starting to grow long in the tooth – we’d better replace them soon.

21. See Some Years

Meaning: To have experienced many years of life
Example: This wine has definitely seen some years – you can taste its rich, complex flavor.

22. The Youth of Today

Meaning: The younger generation, often said negatively
Example: Ugh, the youth of today have no respect or manners at all!

23. Up and Coming

Meaning: A young person showing great potential for the future
Example: Jess is definitely an up-and-coming chef – I predict she’ll have her own restaurant someday.

24. Not a Spring Chicken

Meaning: No longer very young
Example: I’m not a spring chicken anymore, so running a marathon sounds pretty daunting.

25. A Few Years on You

Meaning: Older than another person by a few years
Example: Don’t worry, I’ve got a few years on you, so just ask if you need any advice!

That’s all – 25 idioms all about age and getting older (or younger!).

Using these expressions will definitely add some color to your English conversations.

Just remember to stay young at heart, no matter what your age!

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Check out these awesome phrases & Idioms books I recommend:

Cambridge Idioms Dictionary

IDIOMS and PHRASES Anglo,Synonyms and Antonyms Anglo,One Word Substitution

Oxford Dictionary of Idioms

3000 Idioms and Phrases+ 3000 Proverbs 

Idioms for Kids

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