A recent survey done on Ronni Bennett’s website As Time Goes By revealed, at least among 734 of her readers, that geezer was the least liked synonym for a senior citizen.
Imagine my surprise! Especially since my blog has Geezer right in the title!
As if that wasn’t enough, NPR recently conducted a poll of 2,700 listeners (presumably older adults) who also disliked the term “geezer.”
In case you’re wondering, the most preferred term in Bennett’s survey was elder, while the NPR poll gave it a 33% approval. Elder? Yuck!
For me, “elder” conjures up an image of a group of pipe smoking men sitting around a wood-burning pot-bellied stove in the village general store. The oldest man, or the one with the longest pipe, is the “elder.”
Sorry, but I don’t think elder applies to any still active senior living in the real world. And by active I”m including seniors who use walkers, wheelchairs and electric carts but still move around.
Can you imagine the rock concert introduction, “And here’s elder Mick Jagger with his his band of elders, the Rolling Stones.” Well, maybe if they were playing in the ballroom of an adult community.
As for the term “geezer,” it deserves a much better reputation as a synonym for senior citizen. It was considered worse than geriatric and silver fox. Really? In my geezer mind these are both way worse than geezer.
“Geriatric” implies bedridden. It should have a medical term after it. Think geriatric hospital or geriatric medicine. Besides, it has 4 syllables. More than two and young people will tune out.
Silver fox is only used by men who wear unbuttoned sport shirts that allow them to show off their gold chains while chasing women half their age. I believe that if they’re successful getting a woman that age, it’s not because they’re foxy. It’s because of the silver in their bank accounts.
In Bennett’s survey, 50% of respondents liked the term “senior”. In the NPR survey, one-third also liked senior, but not with the word “citizen” after it. I can live with “senior.” It is what it is, just like we are what we are. It’s generic and leaves a lot of wiggle room.
The other popular synonyms for older were “older adult”, “older man or woman”, and “old”.
Older adult implies two things. One, you’re an adult. If you’re a true geezer you’re always questioning your adulthood. The term older adult also implies that there is a younger adult and an adult adult. At exactly which ages do we switch from one to the other? There are many young adults who really have the sensibility of an older adult. And what is an adult adult anyway?
“Old” and “older man or woman” is simply calling a spade a spade. We’re not young, so we’re old. I can live with those terms.
Ronni, the respected blogger who did the survey, thinks that names such as geezer, coot, biddy, and over-the-hill are disrespectful. The NPR respondents didn’t much like geezer or old-timer.
I respectfully disagree, at least partially. Coot and biddy can be used disrespectfully. But in my article, What’s a Geezer? I define a “coot” as someone 100 or older who can curse, drink, smoke, tell the truth and do whatever he or she damn well pleases. So I would consider myself quite lucky to be a coot.
“Over the hill”, in my experience, is usually used as a joke when someone turns 40. The joke is really on them because 40 is just middle age and they’re making a hill out of a mole. As seniors, we are not just over the hill but over the mountain. And a feisty geezer respects the climb made over that mountain.
So Why is Geezer So Good, Geezer Bill?
This website is named Geezer Guff. (As is the Facebook page.) I chose the title “geezer” because to me the word represented someone older who still had fight in them. Feisty and funny to be exact. (Refer to the tagline at the top of the page!) We see life as the great adventure it is, we take our licks, fight to stand up again, and, most of all, keep a sense of humor about it all.
Sorry if you find geezer disrespectful, but I think the world would be a better place if all seniors were geezers.
Read What’s A Geezer? to see my take on other terms for senior.
By Bill Singer AKA Geezer Bill