"old soul" no; "old man" yes

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Sep 28 15:26:54 UTC 2012

At 9/28/2012 03:59 AM, Martin Kaminer wrote:

>Intriguing.  I'm going to suggest that when "old soul" is modified (by
>merry, dear, sad, poor, etc.) it generally indicates "a person regarded
>with affection or pity" while the unmodified usage indicates someone with
>wisdom or perspective beyond his years, however acquired.

Apparently this is already true of "old man" even when unmodified --
1.d., "colloq. A familiar or affectionate form of address for a man
of any age. Cf. old adj. Special uses 5b."  (See any movie set in Wales.)

"Special uses 5b" has "old" with bean, fruit, horse, hoss, lad, man,
son, sport, and top,.  (Aren't there any similar
Americanisms??)  Perhaps this is where the above "old soul" should be
put ... when he has the appropriate modification.  That is, not a
modifier formed from one of the phrases in "Special uses 5a."


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