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A friend recently told me that she needed a new sofa. Her current one, she said, ‘had seen better days’, meaning that it was clearly old and damaged. This nice idiom (‘have seen better days’) got me thinking about the many ways we describe the condition of objects, both good and bad. This post, in two parts and covering both single words and phrases, is the result of this.
Continuing with idioms, another way to say that something is old and damaged is that it is or it looks the worse for wear:
Admittedly, some of the tabletops are looking a bit the worse for wear.
Something, especially a gadget or vehicle, that is (informal) on its last legs is so old and damaged that it will stop working soon, and an object that (informal) has had it cannot now be used because it is so damaged:
His van is twenty years old and it’s on its last legs.
I need some new trainers. These ones have had it.
If something is so damaged it cannot be repaired, you can say it is beyond repair:
The carpet was beyond repair, so we had it replaced.
There are a few adjectives for things that are old and damaged. Some have additional meanings and usually apply to a particular type of thing. For example, the adjective beat-up often describes old, damaged vehicles and rickety usually applies to old, damaged, wooden things that are likely to break soon:
Despite his wealth, he drove around in a beat-up old car. / She rides a beat-up old cycle.
I wasn’t confident that the rickety old chair would take my weight. / You have to walk up a rickety staircase to get there.
They’d bought a ramshackle cottage out in the country.
At the bottom of the garden stood a dilapidated old shed. / He drove a dilapidated car.
He was wearing a shabby old raincoat.
I have a tatty old copy of the novel.
The doll was in pristine condition and still in its original box.
The book was eighty years old but it was in mint condition.
Something that is in good repair is in good condition and not damaged:
Any clothing to be sold must be clean and in good repair.
An item that is as good as new is in excellent condition despite not being new, especially after it has been repaired or treated in some way:
Maria sewed up the hole in my jacket and it’s as good as new.
That concludes my first post on vocabulary describing the condition of objects. In the second post on this subject, I’ll deal with words for specific types of damage.