Now that I am heading towards becoming an octogenarian (a person who is from 80 to 89 years old), the thought crossed my mind as to whether or not I will be considered a codger, geezer, or coot.
Have you ever noticed how we apply titles or names to ourselves as we age? If you look at the names associated with the respective generations of times gone by we have the following titles:
Title Age Group
Millennials: 18 – 34
Gen X: 35 – 50
Boomer: 51 – 69
Silent: 70 – 87
Greatest: 87 – 100+
True we could just give in and using myself as an example – should someone ask what I am? – respond by saying: “Oh, I am part of the Silent generation. But where is the fun in that?
No, I myself prefer to use a different expression hence the title of this article: Codger – Geezer – Coot!
What is a codger? Well, that depends on which source one might use to determine what a codger is. If you refer to Merriam-Webster, their dictionary says a codger is “an often mildly eccentric and usually elderly fellow.” Oxford goes one step further and includes the fact that a codger is: “a person, especially an old or strange one.” American Heritage says a codger is a somewhat eccentric man, especially an old one.” And not to forget New World, they agree with all the above and adds that “codger” is a term used in good humor.
So much for “codger”.
What about “geezer”? Lexicographers (those individuals that write, compiles, or edits dictionaries) agree that a geezer is an old person, odd, eccentric, and always a male.
Moving on to the word “coot.” A “coot” is a rather small water bird that is a member of the rail family, Rallidae. They constitute the genus Eulica, the name being the Latin for “coot”. So, not only is a coot a waterfowl, but it is also “a foolish, eccentric or senile person (American Heritage). Or looking at other definitions:
Merriam-Webster refers to a coot as: “a harmless simple person”
Oxford defines coot as: “a simple person”
New World uses the terminology: “an amusing old fellow”
Encarta goes into more detail by defining coot as: “an unconventional or unreasonably stubborn person”
As evidenced from all that has been written above, the commonality of all three terms is that they are all old males.
What about the female of the species – what are they called?
Well, some that come to mind would be: Biddy, Crone, Hag, Battle-Axe, and Dowager. I’m sure with a bit more researching, I could come up with some better ones but for now let’s just keep these.
Biddy: a woman, especially an elderly one, regarded as annoying or interfering.
Crone: The crone is a character in folklore and fairy tales, an old woman. In some stories, she is disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in manner, often with magical or supernatural associations that can make her either helpful or obstructing. The Crone is also an archetypal figure, a Wise Woman.
Hag: A hag is a wizened old woman, or a kind of fairy or goddess having the appearance of such a woman, often found in folklore and children’s tales such as Hansel and Gretel.
Battle-Axe: A battle-axe is a term, generally considered pejorative, for an aggressive, domineering and forceful woman.
Dowager: the noun dowager may refer to any elderly widow, especially one of both wealth and dignity.
What one can surmise from all this valuable information is that in either case, male or female, whichever definition we are utilizing, we are talking about someone that is old! Which begs the question: Is it redundant to speak of an old codger, old geezer, or old coot? One could ask the same question when speaking of a biddy, a crone, or a hag.
Seeing that each of these terms represent someone that is old, one could answer that question by saying “Yes and No!” So, it would be redundant to speak of an old codger, old geezer, old coot, old biddy, an old crone, or an old hag. As a matter of information let me remind all what the word redundant means: the word redundant applies to things that are unnecessary or could be left out. So, calling an old man a codger or an old woman a biddy has us asking ourselves: “But are the terms redundant? Should we just refer to them as old or should we include the titles some have created for them as in old codger or old biddy?
Knowing how sensitive some people are to the age question, I would tread carefully whichever way I decided to go.
Until next time!