OLD in sign language

How do you sign "old" in American Sign Language (ASL)? There are several signs in contexts such as age, worn, etc.

ASL signs for "old"

Having lived for a long time; no longer young; old age; elderly; not new.

Pronunciation (sign description): Loose "O" handshape like somewhere between the handshapes "O" and "C" with its top on the chin moves downward at the same time the handshape transforms into "S" handshape or fist.

Usage examples: "old news", "old clothes", "old man".


Meaning: The length of time that a person has lived or a thing has existed.

Pronunciation (sign description): Same as above, except for the movement which the hand moves downward twice.

Usage examples of the age-related concept: "how old are you?" "What is his age?"

Related signs: AGE.

Telling age

For "how old is she?", sign in ASL as "IX OLD?" with the furrowed eyebrows for a wh-question for the sign "OLD?". It means asking how old she/he is.

In grammar, however, when telling an age, the movement is once plus a number. Glossed as AGE+THREE (where the symbol "+" indicate two separate ASL words). Deaf signers naturally use numeral incorporation which involves the index finger for AGE with a number, which is glossed as AGE-THREE where the symbol "-" indicates one word in ASL. See the tutorial to learn how to tell age.

Related words and opposites

As the YOUNG children grew OLD they learned a few things. Not to say they MATURED, but they became ELDERLY and everything they owned became OLD-FASHIONED. What was once HIP was now PASSE. They couldn't even get rid of their clothes at a SECONDHAND store. Everything they owned was well USED and to the YOUTH of today considered to be ANCIENT. Take it easy youth of today, you're the old folks of tomorrow and not everything gets better with AGE. They didn't want to hear it thought. They were too busy aging. Change is ageless.

Opposite: Change is nothing NEW.

First 100 words.

  1. again
  2. also
  3. ask
  4. bad
  5. boy
  6. but
  7. can
  8. come
  9. deaf
  10. different
  11. drink
  12. drive
  13. eat
  14. email
  15. excuse
  16. family
  17. feel
  18. few
  19. find
  20. fine
  21. fingerspell
  22. finish
  23. food
  24. for
  25. forget
  26. friend
  27. get
  28. girl
  29. give
  30. go
  31. good
  32. have, has, had
  33. he
  34. hearing
  35. hello
  36. help
  37. home
  38. how
  39. Internet
  40. know
  41. later
  42. like (feeling)
  43. little
  44. live
  45. man
  46. many
  47. me
  48. meet
  49. more
  50. my
  51. name
  52. need
  53. new
  54. no
  55. not
  56. now
  57. ok, okay
  58. old
  59. other
  60. please
  61. remember
  62. same
  63. say
  64. school
  65. see
  66. she
  67. should
  68. sign, signed word
  69. slow
  70. some
  71. sorry
  72. store
  73. take
  74. tell
  75. text, sms
  76. thank, thank you
  77. their
  78. they
  79. think
  80. time
  81. tired
  82. try
  83. understand
  84. use
  85. wait
  86. want
  87. what
  88. when
  89. where
  90. which
  91. who
  92. why
  93. will
  94. with
  95. woman
  96. work
  97. write
  98. yes
  99. you
  100. your

As you feel more comfortable with the first few hundreds of ASL signs, progress further with your vocabulary and learn signing more.