Here is the listing from jisho.org:

お 老い common word jlpt n3 Noun 1. old age; old person; the old; the aged

Does anyone have any usage cases for this word and/or any info on it's commonality? This would also help to better understand this word, thanks!

2 Answers 2


In modern Japanese, 老い is a common word but it almost always refers to "aged state" or "aging process" rather than "aged person". You can say 老いを感じる, 老いを迎える, 老いに打ち勝つ, 老いの波 (figurative expression), etc. In this sense, I think jisho's definition is somewhat confusing.

But as an exception:

  • There are a few rare compounds where 老い works like an adjective meaning old. 老い木, 老い松, ...
  • There is a relatively common set expression 老いも若きも, where 老い seems to work as a noun meaning old people. As far as I can recall, this is the only case where 老い refers to people.

Outside of the set expression 老いも若きも, you should use お年寄り, 老人, 年配の方 or such to refer to old people.


This word is very often used (But this word is a little old,so it sounds theatrical display sometimes. Here is a phrase I've heard.

"老いには勝てぬ" Age always win. "奴も老いたな" This pharase is used to refer someone who was before very great at some area , but now lose that ability. (This phrase is usually used in manga).

  • I overlooked the title.お年寄り and 年配の方 can refer to elderly people themselves but 老い cannot.
    – Koreyuki
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 18:29
  • 1
    – BJCUAI
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 19:18
  • Sorry.Iam probably wrong
    – Koreyuki
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 20:24

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