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elephant

[el-uh-fuh nt] /ˈɛl ə fənt/
noun, plural elephants (especially collectively) elephant for 1.
1.
either of two large, five-toed pachyderms of the family Elephantidae, characterized by a long, prehensile trunk formed of the nose and upper lip, including Loxodonta africana (African elephant) with enormous flapping ears, two fingerlike projections at the end of the trunk, and ivory tusks, and Elephas maximus (Indian elephant) with smaller ears, one projection at the end of the trunk, and ivory tusks almost exclusively in males: L. africana is threatened; E. maximus is endangered.
2.
a representation of this animal, used in the U.S. since 1874 as the emblem of the Republican Party.
4.
Chiefly British. a size of drawing or writing paper, 23 × 28 inches (58 × 71 cm).
Compare double elephant
Origin
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English (< Anglo-French) < Latin elephantus < Greek elephant- (stem of eléphās) elephant; replacing Middle English olifaunt < Anglo-French < Vulgar Latin *olifantus, for Latin elephantus (with regular Latin o from e before dark l)
Related forms
elephantoid, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for elephant
  • Any wild elephant group is, in essence, one large and highly sensitive organism.
  • Northern elephant seals are long-distance mariners, voyaging for two to eight months at a time without making landfall.
  • Other experts add that if an elephant were to eat the fruit off the ground, it wouldn't wait for the fruit to ferment.
  • There was little chance of missing the elephant in the room.
  • Then, on a pound for pound basis, the cells of an elephant consume far less energy than those of a mouse.
  • If you stay in one of the cabins, an elephant will-no kidding-bring you breakfast.
  • The exhibit starts with an introduction to the various branches of the elephant family tree.
  • In virtually all my interviews, guilt was the elephant in the room.
  • The paper then becomes much less daunting as you are taking pieces of the elephant rather than the whole elephant at one time.
  • He relished toasting slices of elephant heart on a pronged stick over a fire.
British Dictionary definitions for elephant

elephant

/ˈɛlɪfənt/
noun (pl) -phants, -phant
1.
either of the two proboscidean mammals of the family Elephantidae. The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is the larger species, with large flapping ears and a less humped back than the Indian elephant (Elephas maximus), of S and SE Asia
2.
(mainly Brit) a size of writing paper, 23 by 28 inches
3.
elephant in the room, an obvious truth deliberately ignored by all parties in a situation
Derived Forms
elephantoid, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Latin elephantus, from Greek elephas elephant, ivory, of uncertain origin
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 elephant
n.

c.1300, olyfaunt, from Old French oliphant (12c.), from Latin elephantus, from Greek elephas (genitive elephantos) "elephant, ivory," probably from a non-Indo-European language, likely via Phoenician (cf. Hamitic elu "elephant," source of the word for it in many Semitic languages, or possibly from Sanskrit ibhah "elephant").

Re-spelled after 1550 on Latin model. As an emblem of the Republican Party in U.S. politics, 1860. To see the elephant "be acquainted with life, gain knowledge by experience" is an American English colloquialism from 1835.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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elephant in Culture

elephant definition


A symbol of the Republican party, introduced in a series of political cartoons by Thomas Nast during the congressional elections of 1874. (Compare donkey.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for elephant

elephant

Related Terms

see pink elephants, white elephant


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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elephant in Technology


Large, grey, four-legged mammal.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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elephant in the Bible

not found in Scripture except indirectly in the original Greek word (elephantinos) translated "of ivory" in Rev. 18:12, and in the Hebrew word (shenhabim, meaning "elephant's tooth") rendered "ivory" in 1 Kings 10:22 and 2 Chr. 9:21.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Idioms and Phrases with elephant
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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