What Does Along in Years Mean?

Along in Years Meaning

Definition: Someone who is old, growing old, or elderly.

The idiomatic expression along in years refers to someone who is old or elderly.  Native English speakers use it as a euphemism to illustrate that someone is growing older.

When used in this context, the verb getting often precedes the phrase. This phrase originated in the late 1800s.

Ways to Use of Along in Years

This phrase can be preceded by a number of modifiers, one of which is well. If someone says he is well along in years, he means that the he is quite old.

Another modifier is the verb getting. Cathy might say Bill is “getting along in years.” This means that he is getting older. The similar idiomatic phrase on in years, when used to refer to age, carries the same meaning.

Define along in yearsAlthough along in years can be preceded by a verb, it should not be confused with the verb phrase “[to] come along in years.” The latter refers to something that is the first or best of its kind to appear in several years and does not refer to age at all.

For example,

  • This is the first great western movie to come along in year.

This means that a good western movie has not been released in several years.

Examples of Along in Years

Meaning of along in yearsThis sample conversation between three family members shows how this phrase might be used in everyday speech.

Dwight: How are you feeling, Aunt Betty?

Betty: What?

Maeve: You’ll have to speak up. Aunt Betty’s getting along in years, and her hearing is starting to get worse.

Summary

The English idiomatic expression along in years is used to refer to someone’s age, specifically someone who is older or is growing older.