Senior citizen is a common euphemism for an old person used in American English, and sometimes in British English. It implies that the person being referred to is retired. This in turn usually implies that the person is over the retirement age, which varies according to country. Synonyms include old age pensioner or pensioner in British English, and retiree and senior in American English. Some dictionaries describe widespread use of "senior citizen" for people over the age of 65.
When defined in an official context, senior citizen is often used for legal or policy-related reasons in determining who is eligible for certain benefits available to the age group.
It is used in general usage instead of traditional terms such as old person, old-age pensioner, or elderly as a courtesy and to signify continuing relevance of and respect for this population group as "citizens" of society, of senior rank.
The term was apparently coined in 1938 during a political campaign. Famed caricaturist Al Hirschfeld claimed on several occasion that his father Isaac Hirschfeld invented the term 'senior citizen'. It has come into widespread use in recent decades in legislation, commerce, and common speech. Especially in less formal contexts, it is often abbreviated as "senior(s)", which is also used as an adjective.
In commerce, some businesses offer customers of a certain age a "senior discount". The age at which these discounts are available varies between 55, 60, 62 or 65, and other criteria may also apply. Sometimes a special "senior discount card" or other proof of age needs to be obtained and produced to show entitlement.
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