Sunday, May 15, 2011


The Traverse City Senior Expo is coming up this week, and I’ve been working on judging nominations for the 2011 Michigan Senior Citizen of the Year, so I’m not surprised that the word gerontology has been moving in and out of my consciousness.

It comes from the Greek γεροντ-, γέρων, meaning old man, and it’s the scientific study of old age and the aging process. A gerontologist is the medical practitioner, and he or she engages in gerontological studies.

There are other words that share the same root.

  • Gerontocracy is a system of government headed by the elderly. Gerontocrat and gerontocratic are connected forms. A rare form is gerontarchical.
  • Gerontic is a seldom-used adjective meaning pertaining to old age or senile.
  • Gerontogeous once pertained to plants, designating those that came from the Old World.
  • Gerontomorphic designates anatomical specialization most fully represented in the mature male of a species.
  • A cluster of words refers to strong psychosexual feelings for older people. A gerontophil desires sexual relations with old people. That person has gerontophilia or gerontophilism and engages in gerontophilic thoughts.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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