Let's Let Elder Lie

washer dialI'm a boomer. I was born in 1947. If anybody refers to me as elderly or elder, they will get an earful in no uncertain terms.

My very first blog post back in March was about the word "elderly." I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. What prompted my first rant was a reporter in New Zealand who wrote that America was being taken over by elderly baby boomers. He went on to refer to 70 year old Warren Beatty as "the famous face of a social phenomenon sweeping America."

Of course his beautiful wife Annette Bening is a the real boomer, cell in pieceshaving been born in 1958,

After a suitable rant in my blog, I ended with this:
You know what they call the fastest sheep in New Zealand?
Virgin wool.

OK, it's an old joke, I'm old, I'm a geezer, an old fart, a dirty old man, a codger, coot, whatever. But I'm not elderly. However, I may be fighting a losing battle. I'm up against the mainstream media and a woman who used to be a producer for CBS News, Ronni Bennett.

Ms. Bennett likes the archaic term "elder." She wants to resurrect the tribal meaning of respect, knowledge, dignity, and sometimes wisdom.

Sure enough, when the New York Times and Washington Post wanted to do stories on people over fifty blogging; they got her on the horn and put the term elderblogging into the washer dialvernacular.

Here's what a retired English teacher/blogger ( has to say:

OK as a retired English professor, here is my take on this. "Elder" is usually a noun such as he is an elder at the church, but may be used as an adjective when used as a comparative form e.g. she is my elder sister. "Elder blogger" is poor but marginally acceptable English. You wouldn't say he is an elder lawyer, doctor, fireman. The term really should be "elderly" since elderly is a descriptive adjective.

But the Internet being what it is, "elder blogger" could become an idiom I suppose. But I'll never use it. If one of my students used it I would ask "elder than which blogger?"

Referring to people over fifty that blog as elder bloggers could segregate us from other bloggers. That's never good.



Mark Van Patten writes a blog called Going Like Sixty and has been married to the same woman since 1968.

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