• auld •Pronunciation: awld • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: (Scots English) Old.
Notes: In most English-speaking regions December 31 is celebrated as New Year's Eve. The celebration was previously known as Old Year's Night, which continues in English-speaking Guyana and some other areas of the Caribbean.
In Play: Many English speakers around the world sing the very popular Scottish song, Auld Lang Syne "Old Long Since" at midnight Old Year's Night = New Year's Eve. This includes those living in Auld Reekie "Old Smoky", a sobriquet of Edinburgh, Scotland, and elsewhere in the Auld Warld. No doubt it was heard in many English-speaking places in the wee hours of this morning.
Word History: The Proto-Indo-European root al- meant "grow, nourish" and with the suffix -to (al-to), it meant "grown", which went on to become Old English eald "old". Over time the Old English word came to be auld in Scots English and old in Modern English. With the suffix -m, it turned up in Latin almus "nourishing", the feminine of which is the alma in 'alma mater', "the nourishing mother" = the school from which we graduate. Alumnus and alumna are based on the same root; they mean "student, pupil" in Latin, from alere "to nourish".