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1823, from French élite "selection, choice," from Old French eslite (12c.), fem. past participle of elire, elisre "pick out, choose," from Latin eligere "choose" (see election). Borrowed in Middle English as "chosen person" (late 14c.), especially a bishop-elect; died out mid-15c.; re-introduced by Byron's "Don Juan." As an adjective by 1852. As a typeface, first recorded 1920.