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What's the phrase for things that (seem to) get better with age?

For example: JJ Abrams Star Trek is to TNG as Lucas's prequels were to Star Wars.

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I think you're examples are unclear as there might be some difference of opinion (in both examples) as to which one is better. –  Sam Mar 4 '12 at 5:14
    
I wholeheartedly concur with Sam here. Many moviegoers found the Star Wars prequels terrible, especially when compared to the original trilogy. –  J.R. Mar 4 '12 at 9:50
    
:) Thanks guys - I think the person I quoted that from was wishing for the better days of TNG over JJ Abrams. In my view that's not a valid claim, the old TNG episodes just seem better. I personally think the JJ Abrams movie is very good, and SW Ep1 very bad. –  hawkeye Mar 4 '12 at 10:16
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I'd like to think it was 'me'. –  Barrie England Mar 4 '12 at 19:15
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@Barrie England: haha - the question is do you want to characterise yourself as already "well-aged", or as having the potential for ageing well at some point in the future? That second one being a quality for which English may not actually have a generic term (you probably don't want to go around telling people you're cellarable! :) –  FumbleFingers Mar 5 '12 at 0:02

6 Answers 6

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Things are often said to improve with age.

Headline from the March 2nd USA Today: "Like a fine wine, brain can improve with age"

If the thing actually does not improve, but the person looking back on it seems to think it is better, that could be considered nostalgia.

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It could be said that it matures with age.

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I think of the word mellow. From NOAD:

mellow
adjective
1 (esp. of sound, taste, and color) pleasantly smooth or soft; free from harshness: she was hypnotized by the mellow tone of his voice | slow cooking gives the dish a sweet, mellow flavor.
2 (of a person's character) softened or matured by age or experience: a more mellow personality.

It can also be used as a verb, meaning to become mellow.

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Some things indeed improve as they mellow with age. With the science fiction genre, though, the word mellow may not imply improvement. Case in point: Star Wars mellowed, but didn't improve - at least in the minds of some critics. –  J.R. Mar 4 '12 at 9:54

If you're talking about things seeming to get better with age, that would be nostalgia. As for things actually getting better with age, that's just my wishful thinking.

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Using a wine simile to describe things that get better with age is not uncommon.

In fact, I did an Ngram on "wine improves with age," and found more than one reference that wasn't talking about what happens in the wine cellar:

"A trader with a good mind, like good wine, improves with age."

"He is a clear example of a man who, like a good wine, improves with age."

"She is a music maestro who like wine, improves with age."

"Friendship, like good wine, improves with age..."

"Good judgment... like a fine wine, improves with age."

"For better or worse, the comparative study of literature, like fine wine, improves with age."

"Widely known in its initial versions as the first authoring system for the Apple II, Tutor-Tech Hypermedia Toolkit, like fine wine, improves with age."

"High-quality sex, like good wine, improves with age."

On second thought, maybe that last example does refer to what happens in the wine cellar...

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  • Seasoned, to become seasoned with the passage of time
  • Mature e.g. "she had matured from adolescence into the full blossom of womanhood"
  • Gentrified: That means something that was old, then improved, so it is a marginally valid answer. But "gentrified" is a phrase for something that got better with age (although it probably got worse before it got better)!
  • To be a classic e.g. "an enduring classic, having withstood the test of time"
  • Been around the block
  • Antique
  • Vintage

Some are euphemisms, I think. And most are definitely cliches!

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