Word Origin & History
"race of powerful supernatural beings in Gmc. folklore," O.E. elf, ælf, from P.Gmc. *albiz, origin unknown, possibly from PIE *albho- "white." A popular component in Anglo-Saxon names, many of which survive as modern given names and surnames, cf. Ælfræd "Elf-counsel" (Alfred), Ælfwine
"Elf-friend" (Alvin), Ælfric "Elf-ruler" (Eldridge), also women's names such as Ælfflæd "Elf-beauty." Elf Lock hair tangled, especially by Queen Mab, "which it was not fortunate to disentangle" [according to Robert Nares' glossary of Shakespeare] is from 1592.