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Some aged, even old people, due to their breed and healthy, active lifestyle, not only look very well, but sometimes are also able to compete with much younger ones in some activities requiring agility, physical strength, and stamina.

I've been thinking about the best way to describe such people in general and came up with the expression "to wear well/greatly". I haven't been able to find the proofs that this expression is valid for human beings, though, and if it is, whether it can be used as in this sentence:

Tom's grandfather wears greatly — not only he looks much younger his age, he also seems to be stronger than most of his grandson classmates' dads.

Are there words and expressions to describe such people in English like I tried to do it in this sentence? What may be some of them, the most commonly used ones?

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I have two minor remarks.

  1. We usually speak of animal breeds, not human breeds. This might sound degrading if you actually said it. You might consider "due to genetics".
  2. I am not confident that it is common to say that someone "wears well" (at least in AmE, and among my generation (20s)). You might say, that a thing wears well, like "He wears that shirt well." In the same spirit, you might be able to say he wears his age well.

As for some alternatives, I think you might be looking for aged well. This usually means that someone has maintained their good looks, their physical health, or both.

Two ways I can think of rephrasing your example are

  1. Tom's grandfather has aged well. He's so strong, he can even keep up with guys half his age.
  2. Tom's grandfather has aged well. He's so strong, he gives guys half his age a run for their money.

I cut out grandson classmates' dads because that's convoluted. Half his age is a common way of saying people/men who are much younger than him. You can also use other fractions, like "a third his age", if it makes sense. 3 suggests that Tom is just as strong as the younger guys, but not necessarily stronger. 4 suggests that Tom is just as strong as the younger guys and possibly stronger.

  • "I think you are trying to use the definition of wear that means, more or less, deteriorate." On the contrary, using the verb "to wear" I meant "to last and be usable". Thanks for the answer. – Rompey Jul 30 '16 at 22:42
  • Yes, I figured that out. At least to me, it sounds very strange to say that someone "wears well". I feel like this is commonly applied to objects, like a shirt, not so much people. But that's my experience, and not a hard fact. Thanks. – Em. Jul 30 '16 at 23:32
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You use the expression wear well to talk about how well something lasts over a period of time. For example, if something wears well, it still seems quite new or useful after a long time or a lot of use. it is fine to use this expression about people.

The expression wear greatly does not work: greatly is about a large quantity, so it sounds like Tom's grandad looks older than his years.

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It's only anecdotal, but my dad used to tell the story of when his dad brought his new bride (my gran) home to meet his parents. Granddad's father approved, and told him, "Good choice, son, she'll wear well." Which she did, living into her 80s and still very hale and hearty when she was killed by a reckless driver.

Now I should perhaps point out that this was a story told with the aim of being amusing, I believe because it was a somewhat unusual use of the term, implying perhaps that Gran was being assessed as an item of value rather than a person.

In the context you propose, I don't think it would be out of place to say a person "has worn well", but you might be aware of its slightly jocular implication. I wouldn't use the present tense "wears", which, to me, has the somewhat puzzling flavour of an advertisement - as if you were recommending the gentleman for serviceable use. And, as others have said, "greatly" gives quite the wrong impression. The suggestion of "has aged well" is good.

If it is part of the story to refer to the person's relatives, then you need to amend "grandson classmates' dads" to "grandson's classmates' dads", although I agree with a previous commenter that that is a bit convoluted.

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A slightly old fashioned, yet still appropriate word is hale. It means "retaining exceptional health". We also sometimes say "hale and hearty"

Tom's grandfather is a hale old man. He can outrun men half his age!

(I've incorporated some of suggestions of Max here, and I think an exclamation mark is deserved in a sentence like that.)

Otherwise simple words like fit, strong, healthy etc, while not specific to the aged, can be applied to them.

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