*甲骨文Oracle Bone (jiă gŭ wén) literally means shell bone writing, exactly, inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells of the Shang Dynasty [16th―11th century B.C]
小篆 Seal Character:
老 was used to be a Pictogram in Oracle Bone writing, looking like a humpback, with a thread of sparse hair on head, walking on a crutch in hand. It was later defined as a Logical Aggregate in Bronze and Seal Character when the crutch thing became 匕, formed from three semantic indicators: 毛 (máo, literally means hair; feather; down; wool); 人 (rén, literally means human being; person; man; woman); and 匕 (formally means an ancient ladle for rice, which is quite difficult to explain in 老. So, just forget about it and we'll use a fun approach to ease it in the following analysis).
本义Original meaning: 年老,衰老 (old; aged)
Lily explains 老 like this:
You may have trouble when trying to find a clear connection between its all character forms, for the evolution of the formation of 老 has taken a rather devious route. To understand 老, I prefer that you just remember how 老 had come to be a pictogram in the oracle bone writing. Before we take a bold but probably effective approach to explain the current form of 老, I'd like you pay attention to these two Chinese traditions: first, Chinese used to bury a dead person in the ground, covering up the dead with earth or soil, before the foundation of PRC in 1949; secondly, in China, we say that food, like god, is of the utmost importance (民以食为天mín yĭ shí wéi tiān). In this way, you might find it much easier to understand why, in the modern writing, 老is largely composed of the two parts of 土 (tǔ, literally means soil; earth) and 匕 (bǐ, formerly means an ancient ladle for rice), because an old Chinese man thought food was so important and essential that even when being buried in the earth after his death, he carried with him a ladle, which was absolutely indispensable for a Chinese meal.
With all these silly wbesiets, such a great page keeps my internet hope alive.
Never seen a betetr post! ICOCBW