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late 15c., from Middle French élégant (15c.), from Latin elegantem (nominative elegans) "choice, fine, tasteful," collateral form of present participle of eligere "select with care, choose." Elegans was originally a term of reproach, "dainty, fastidious;" the notion of "tastefully refined" emerged in classical Latin. Related: Elegantly.
(From Mathematics) Combining simplicity, power, and a certain ineffable grace of design. Higher praise than "clever", "winning" or even cuspy.
The French aviator, adventurer, and author Antoine de Saint-Exup'ery, probably best known for his classic children's book "The Little Prince", was also an aircraft designer. He gave us perhaps the best definition of engineering elegance when he said "A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."