I'm trying to describe a person who is young (in his youth 19-24, past teenage years) who at a first glance might look mature or wiser for his age. But if you talk to him you get to know him as a little naive though only in experience but not in wisdom.

So I have a description like "His face is calm and impassive and combined with his white hair makes him look wiser than 19"

  • Can I use a word or phrase that can define this kind of person without giving away details?
  • And is the description even correct to explain this kind of person?
  • 1
    There is an expression, 'wise beyond his years' but it usually relates to someone's behaviour, not to their appearance. books.google.com/ngrams/… Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 16:47
  • How many people aged 19 to 24 have white hair? And what would it indicate if they did - other than that they are genetically predisposed to have white hair at a young age?
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 17:50
  • 2
    @WS2 I had two girl friends whose hair were turning grey in their twenties. And like it or not, they looked older because of it. Grey is often associated with the passage of time.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 18:06
  • @Mari-Lou: Presumably it works different in Italian, but in English that would be two people whose hair was turning grey. Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 18:32
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers a slip up, too many years in Italy the two languages get muddled. Happens.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 18:40

8 Answers 8


Older than his years may fit, applying both for appearence and mind.

Example 1: But he’s only 38! Colin Farrell looks older than his years as he shows off scruffy beard on way to yoga class in Santa Monica.

Example 2: All this profuse, indiscriminate reading helped to educate him and to give him the air of a "wise child," older than his years and familiar with the ways of the world.


The term precocious is applied to a person who develops skills or characteristics much earlier than usual.

  • 1
    ...but is usually only applied to children. Certainly I would not use it in the context of a 19-24 year-old young adult.
    – J...
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 1:39
  • 1
    I'm wondering...Is there something that a 19-24 year old adult might be skilled at that most adults generally achieve, if at all, only years later? If so, wouldn't you refer to that young adult as precocious?
    – DavidC
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 1:48

Sometimes, one will hear the term "old soul" for someone who seems to demonstrate wisdom that beyond their years.


If the person has white hair, they might be termed "venerable", or even better (rubbing in any disparity between their looks and their acts) "venerable-looking". Like, for example, in the title of this dissertation.


I think an old head on young shoulders fits the person you describe quite well.


His reserved demeanor makes him seem more mature than his peers.

(Some youngen with white hair isn't going to fool me, unless they also know when to keep their mouth shut.)


I've heard the term worldly used in this context.


His visage denotes wisdom-experience-years-maturity beyond his age. Of course, transposing the words age and years is an option...

age beyond his years or years beyond his age.

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