What does “as old as the hills” mean?

Discover the origins and meaning of the idiom 'as old as the hills' and how it is commonly used in everyday conversation. Explore its historical roots and synonyms like 'ancient as time' and 'older than dirt'.

Understanding the Phrase

“As old as the hills” is an idiom used to describe something or someone that is very old.

It is often used to emphasize the age of something or someone, and is considered a hyperbole.

Historical Origins

The phrase has been in use for centuries.

Some sources suggest that it has biblical origins, as a similar phrase can be found in Job 15:7: “Are you the first man ever born? Were you brought forth before the hills?” However, there is no concrete evidence to support this claim.

The phrase in its current form didn’t gain use until the 18th century.

One of the earliest examples of the phrase as we know it today can be found in Francis Hutchinson’s A defence of the ancient historians, written in 1734: “As vales are as old as the hills, so loughs and rivers must be as old as they.”

Do “as old as the hills” and “come of age” have similar meanings?

Yes, “as old as the hills” and “come of age” have similar meanings in the sense that they both refer to something that has been around for a very long time.

However, “come of age” also has the additional connotation of reaching a level of maturity or understanding coming of age.

Modern Usage

Today, “as old as the hills” is a commonly used phrase that can be heard in everyday conversation.

For example, “This car is as old as the hills” or “My grandmother is as old as the hills.”

Here are three example sentences using the idiom:

  1. “That building has been standing for as long as anyone can remember. It’s as old as the hills.”
  2. “I can’t believe you’re still using that flip phone. It’s as old as the hills!”
  3. “My grandfather’s stories are as old as the hills, but they never get old.”

Here are three synonyms of the idiom:

  1. Ancient as time
  2. Older than dirt
  3. Been around forever