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50 Things People Say That Will Offend You If You're Over 50

Two words: Mrs. Robinson

Turning 50 is, without a doubt, a major milestone, and an achievement, to boot. Unfortunately, for many people, it's also one that comes with innumerable assumptions from others. While you may not feel any different on your 50th birthday than you did on your 49th, there will still be plenty of people eager to insist that everything has changed because you've entered a new decade. If you're over 50, don't feel bad if you're hot under the collar when someone says one of these offensive phrases to you. And when you want to make the most of this decade, start with the 50 Life Changes to Make After 50!

"Do You Feel Old?"

Older Man Reading Poems

Asking someone if they feel old is basically the same as saying, "I think you're old." And yes, it's only natural to feel offended by it. And when you want to seem younger, start by dropping the 40 Things Only Older People Say from your vocabulary.

"You Definitely Don't Look 50"

Older Woman on Exercise Bike Anti-Aging

Many people will trot out this phrase as a way of making you feel better about being over 50. But what was wrong about being over 50 in the first place? Want to turn back the clock? The 20 Easy Ways to Look a Decade Younger are a great place to start.

"You're Adorable"

dress well 50s

Babies dressed up in costumes are adorable. Kittens are adorable. Celebrities who look just like their pets are adorable. You're not suddenly adorable just because you hit 50, and it's pretty offensive for someone to start treating you like a pet just because you're that age. And when you want to look less adorable and more "oh, wow," start with the 30 Best Tips For Dressing Well in Your 50s.

"I Would Never Have Guessed You Were So Old"

dressing well 50s

If the words "so old" accompany someone's description of you, it's only natural that you might be more than a little offended. Want to look younger in no time? The 15 Best Haircuts For Looking Instantly Younger will get you there fast.

"My Grandma/Grandpa Always Says…"

old couple walking dog

Yes, there are some people in their 50s who are grandparents. And no, there's nothing inherently wrong with being compared to someone's beloved grandma or grandpa. But having people act as though you should relate to the folksy adages of someone 20, 30, or 40 years older just because you're over 50 is undeniably rude. And when you want to make yourself seem more youthful, ditch the 100 Slang Terms From the 20th Century No One Uses Anymore.

"I Can't Wait to Get Old!"

50 compliments

That's great! Let us know what it's like when you get there. And when you're ready to stop the aging process in its tracks, discover the 20 Secrets of Ageless Celebrities.

"Do You Know How to Use a Smartphone?"

40 things only women over 40 know

As surprising as it may seem to many younger people, lots—maybe even most—of the people you know over 50 know how to get their email, text their friends, and even browse Tinder. And if your phone is starting to feel more like an appendage than a tool, check out the 11 Easy Ways to Conquer Your Smartphone Addiction.

"Do You Know How to Use a Computer?"

man on laptop Life Easier

Again, 50-something is pretty young to retire, so it's probably a safe bet that most people who are still working are computer-literate, and it's pretty offensive to ask. And when you do want to outfit your office, start with the 10 Tech Items You Never Knew You Needed.

"Mrs. Robinson"

dressing well 50s

Yes, The Graduate is a great movie. No, women over 50 who date younger men don't appreciate the constant Anne Bancroft comparisons—the actress was only 36 at the time, anyway. And if you're ready to start dating again, make sure to ignore the 40 Relationship Tips That Are Actually Terrible.

"Going to Bed Early Sounds Awesome"

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Of course, getting a good night's sleep is amazing! That said, there's no reason you can't log a full eight hours at 20 or 30, and it seems pretty silly to say otherwise. If you want to be better rested by tomorrow, start with the 20 Nighttime Habits Guaranteed to Help You Sleep Better.

"Elderly Person"

things women over 40 need to know

Growing old is an undeniable privilege. However, that doesn't mean that people in their 50s should be dubbed "elderly" just yet. Words have meanings, people!

"Just Look at Betty White!"

Betty White at William Shatner's Roast

Betty White is amazing. She's also 96. If you want to show someone in their 50s that their life is just getting started, there are tons of better examples out there.

"You Don't Seem That Old"

40 things only women over 40 know

It's good to hear that being over 50 doesn't seem that old. Because it isn't that old. And for more things you shouldn't say, here are the 40 Things People Say That Will Offend You If You're Over 40. 

"Grow Up"

50 compliments

Getting older isn't really a choice. Growing up? Totally optional. And don't feel bad if you feel offended when someone says this to you.

"How's Your Memory?"

40 things only women over 40 know

50 isn't exactly up there in years these days, so it's totally fine to take offense if people are asking you if you're at the point where you're using mnemonic devices to remember your own name.

"So-and-So Is Even Older Than You"

50 compliments

The fact that people older than 50-somethings exist? Not surprising. The fact that some people feel the need to mention it as a means of making the over-50 set feel better? Pretty offensive. And for more of the things we say, check out that 20 Everyday Things It's OK to Lie About. 

"I Love Seeing People Age Naturally"

40 things only women over 40

Considering that it's not really anyone's business if you're aging naturally or with the help of a team of doctors, it's not surprising if this one makes you feel less than warm and fuzzy when you hear it.


brushing your teeth in office

A lifetime of brushing, flossing, and annual dental visits mean that yes, even people in their 50s still have all of their original teeth.

"Excuse, me, Ma'am"

50 compliments

While some people think that calling a woman "ma'am" is just a way to be polite, it definitely sounds like, "You're old" when you hear it.

"Didn't You Want Kids?"

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If you're over 50 and don't have children, odds are you've heard plenty of questions about why that's the case. And yes, it's always offensive.

"Didn't You Want to Get Married?"

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Again, there are plenty of people who simply don't see marriage in the cards for themselves, and plenty of others who wished they had gotten married, but never found the right person. When you're single in your 50s, people love to trot out these tired lines.

"Baby Boomers Are So Angry"

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While some people in the over-50 set may technically be Baby Boomers, it's not true of everyone who's north of 49. And yes, it's understandable to be a little upset when someone thinks an entire generation speaks for you personally.

"You've Still Got Time"

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Although it is, of course, nice to know that you've still got plenty of years left to do exciting things, the idea that someone needs to remind you of this is more than a little offensive.

"I Love Your Zest for Life"

dressing well 50s

Did someone issue a mandate that you have to stop having fun when you're hit 50? Because that's certainly what this statement seems like it's saying.

"I Can't Imagine Being Your Age"

50 compliments

It's hard to imagine owning a house when you don't own one yet, but nobody thinks to say that to the homeowner next door. It is, however, pretty strange, and a little offensive, when people say a similar thing about you because you're over 50. We should all consider ourselves lucky to have such long and healthy lives.

"What Was It Like Back in Your Day?"

phrases men over 40 should stop using

There are plenty of good ways to ask people what the early years of their lives were like. The phrase "back in your day," however, is rarely a welcome addition to a conversation.

"They Don't Make Them Like That Anymore"

50 compliments

Sure, you don't see cars that look like the Model T on the road anymore. But when this kind of phrase is used to explain a person of a certain age, it's more than a little offensive.

"Do You Have an AARP Card?"


While anyone over 50 is eligible for an AARP membership, considering that most people don't retire until 60- or 70-something, this probably isn't a line of questioning you want to go down.

"So Retro!"

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Whether it's an album, a style of dress, or a person, hearing that something is "retro" because it's not brand new is like nails on a chalkboard to most 50-somethings.

"Are Those Your Grandkids?"

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Not everyone has adult children by the time they're in their 50s. For people who had kids in their 40s and 50s, it's more than a little frustrating to have people constantly mistake you for grandma or grandpa.

"Do You Want My Seat?"

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If someone seems truly infirm, it may seem like a kind gesture to offer them your seat on public transportation. If you're 52 and on your way back from a Pilates class when someone does it, it can definitely sting.

"Ten Miles in the Snow…"

Winter snow

Yes, we get it: being 50 seems ancient to someone half that age. But please, whatever you do, don't ask us if we had to walk ten miles in the snow to get to school, watch television, or generally live our lives.

"You Have a Good Body For Someone Your Age"

phrases men over 40 should stop using

As with most compliments that end in "for someone your age," hearing this about what you considered a pretty normal over-50 body definitely doesn't feel like true praise.

"Was It Weird Growing Up Without…?"

Obsolete, television static

If you're over 50, you probably remember having a TV, phone, refrigerator, and plenty of the other things kids these days grow up with too, which makes this question pretty perplexing.

"Have You Considered Botox?"

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Just because someone is over 50 doesn't automatically mean they're eager to have work done, and yes, it is pretty rude to ask.

"Did You Get Botox Yet?"

habits after 40

And, of course, if someone seems to look younger than their chronological age, it's not a whole lot better to ask if they've had work done already. If someone wants you to know about their skilled injector, they'll let you know.

"Men Just Get Better With Age"

50 compliments

While this may feel like a compliment if you're hearing it as an over-50 guy, the implication that only men have better years ahead of them after 50 is pretty offensive.

"Nobody Dresses Like That Anymore"

dress well 50s

They said that platforms would never come back. They came back. They said that A-line skirts would never come back. They came back. Skinny jeans? They came back. Some people may, offensively, find it necessary to tell you that your clothes are out of style, but make no mistake: people will be complimenting you on them again in a year.

"You're Going to Be a Hot Grandma/Grandpa!"

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It may be nice to have people appreciate the lengths you go to to take care of yourself, but this comes off a little creepy, at best.

"It's So Cute That You're Trying New Things"

40 things only women over 40 know

There's never a bad time to try something new. So, why do people feel the need to start dubbing your new interests "cute" when you hit 50?

"You're So Fun For Someone Your Age"

40 compliments

Fun doesn't have a cut-off age! And hearing that people are surprised that you still have fun at your age doesn't feel like much of a compliment.

"You Have So Much Energy!"

50 compliments

Much like people 10, 20, or 30 years younger, most 50-somethings know how to brew a pot of coffee, thank you very much.

"Gray Hair is So Chic"

Older Woman Worst Habits

Gray hair is chic! But when people feel the need to point out that you still look good, despite not dyeing your locks, it feels a little icky.

"You Look So Dignified"

older couple Bad Dating Marriage Tips

If you're over 50, you're probably all-too-familiar with the coded language people use to describe your looks. While you once got called "handsome," the less-welcome "dignified" has suddenly taken its place.

"You're Starting a Family Now?"

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While it may not be traditional to have kids over 50, more and more people are doing it these days. And, to be clear, it's far from polite to have someone prying about why you didn't get around to doing it earlier.

"I Can't Wait Until I Can Just Stop Caring"

man relaxing Smartest Men Get Ahead

Just because someone is 50-plus doesn't mean they've given up. Do Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Elle Macpherson seem like they've given up to you? It's pretty rude to assume that being over 50 just means wearing no makeup and elastic-bottom sweatpants for the rest of your life.

"I Bet You Can't Wait to Retire"

life reminders

At 50, many people are in the prime of their careers, so counting down the days until they're sitting poolside with a mojito in Myrtle Beach doesn't exactly feel like a compliment.

"When Are the Grandkids Coming?"

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Although many people with adult children may be eager to have grandkids on the way, prying about when exactly that's going to happen feels pretty intrusive.

"Set in Your Ways"

50 compliments

Who says that being 50 means you can't change anything about yourself? Use the phrase "set in your ways" around a 50-something and you're more than likely to get them a little hot under the collar.

"One Foot in the Grave"

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Sure, black humor can be funny, but all those jokes about being one foot in the grave because you've hit 50? Not exactly a laugh riot. And when you want to make the most of the next 50 years, start with the 100 Ways to Live to 100.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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