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[el-boh] /ˈɛl boʊ/
the bend or joint of the human arm between upper arm and forearm.
the corresponding joint in the forelimb of a quadruped.
something bent like an elbow, as a sharp turn in a road or river, or a piece of pipe bent at an angle.
Architecture, crossette.
Also called ell, el. a plumbing pipe or pipe connection having a right-angled bend.
verb (used with object)
to push with or as if with the elbow; jostle.
to make (one's way) by so pushing.
verb (used without object)
to elbow one's way:
He elbowed through the crowd.
at one's elbow, within easy reach; nearby:
A virtue of the cottage is that the ocean is at your elbow.
bend / lift / crook an elbow, Informal. to drink alcoholic beverages.
give the elbow, shove aside, get rid of, or reject.
out at the elbows,
  1. poorly dressed; shabby.
  2. impoverished.
Also, out at elbows.
rub elbows with, to mingle socially with; associate with:
a resort where royalty rubs elbows with the merely rich.
up to one's elbows, very busy; engrossed:
I am up to my elbows in answering mail.
Also, up to the elbows.
Origin of elbow
before 1000; Middle English elbowe, Old English el(n)boga; cognate with Middle Dutch elle(n)bōghe, Old High German el(l)inbogo (German Ellenbogen), Old Norse ǫl(n)bogi; literally, “forearm-bend.” See ell2, bow1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for elbow
  • Lumps may need a lot of elbow grease and a good whisk, but they can be banished.
  • Run conduit to the box using an elbow to make the turn.
  • It was not crowded elbow-to-elbow, the weather was wonderful and the mosquitoes all dead.
  • Booth sank a viciously sharp seven-inch blade into his arm, opening a wound from elbow to shoulder.
  • Everyone looks at this one study that came out more than a year ago on tennis elbow but the problem is, it was a cohort study.
  • Baking soda does a marvelous job of oven cleaning and refrigerator cleaning with a bit of elbow grease.
  • QM, especially, has plenty of elbow room at this juncture for spiritual experience to be more than simple aesthetics.
  • The opportunity for going online without too much of one's own elbow grease to get things going seemed irresistible.
  • More than one pointed to the elbow when referring to witchcraft, indicating the site in the body where sorcery is said to reside.
  • Throwing awkwardly on his return, he soon found that his elbow and shoulder were aching, too.
British Dictionary definitions for elbow


the joint between the upper arm and the forearm, formed by the junction of the radius and ulna with the humerus
the corresponding joint or bone of birds or mammals
the part of a garment that covers the elbow
something resembling an elbow, such as a sharp bend in a road or river
at one's elbow, within easy reach
out at elbow, out at elbows, ragged or impoverished
up to the elbows with, up to the elbows in, busily occupied with; deeply immersed in
(transitive) to reject; dismiss. Also: give the elbow
to make (one's way) by shoving, jostling, etc
(transitive) to knock or shove with or as if with the elbow
Word Origin
Old English elnboga; see ell², bow²; related to Old Norse olbogi, Old High German elinbogo
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for elbow

c.1200, elbowe, from Old English elnboga, from ell "length of the forearm" + boga "bow, arch," from West Germanic *alinobogan, from Proto-Germanic *elino-bugon, literally "bend of the forearm" (cf. Middle Dutch ellenboghe, Dutch elleboog, Old High German elinbogo, German Ellenbogen, Old Norse ölnbogi).

Second element related to Old English bugan "to bend" (see bow (v.)); first element from *alina "arm," from PIE *el- (1) "elbow, forearm" (see ell (n.1)). Phrase elbow grease "hard rubbing" is attested from 1670s, from jocular sense of "the best substance for polishing furniture." Elbow room attested from mid-16c.


"thrust with the elbow," c.1600, from elbow (n.). Figurative sense is from 1863. Related: Elbowed; elbowing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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elbow in Medicine

elbow el·bow (ěl'bō')

  1. The joint or bend of the arm between the forearm and the upper arm. Also called cubitus.

  2. The bony outer projection of this joint.

  3. Something having a bend or an angle similar to an elbow.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for elbow



A police officer or detective


To associate with someone as a friend; rub elbows

Related Terms

bend the elbow, not know one's ass from one's elbow, rub elbows

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with elbow
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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