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I often see the terms old-fashioned, outdated, dated, archaic, obsolete and aged in different dictionaries. Are they all synonyms and do they all mean the same thing?

Many forums discuss this and some say that obsolete is less older than archaic, and that old-fashioned and aged are synonyms, and that outdated and dated are synonyms and are less older than archaic but older than obsolete. I'm confused with so much information giving no concise explanation.

For instance the verb "ail" in [Oxford Dictionary] it is archaic, the [Merriam-Webster's Dictionary] says nothing, in [Cambridge Dictionary] it is old-fashioned, the [TheFreeDictionary] simply says that it is a literary word, in [Collins Dictionary] it is old-fashioned, [Vocabulary] says nothing, [YourDictionary] says it's now chiefly used in interrogative or indefinite constructions.

An interesting thing is that based on what Oxford says "old-fashioned" are divided into two categories "archaic" and "dated".

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    Many dictionaries will have some front matter where they explain such terms in more detail; it may be best to try to locate such guidance. – J.R. Apr 13 '17 at 9:13
  • I often find that in times like these, all the words used against one sample sentence is the best way (to begin) to figure out the difference between all these words. For example, you could start a discussion on how these sentences are different from each other: "The dress is old-fashioned./The dress is outdated./The dress is dated./The dress is archaic./The dress is obsolete./The dress is aged" and we would be able to leave feedback on your thoughts. – Teacher KSHuang Apr 13 '17 at 10:08

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