ell

ell

1 [el]
noun
1.
an extension usually at right angles to one end of a building.
2.
elbow ( def 5 ).
3.
something that is L -shaped.
Also, el.


Origin:
1765–75; a spelling of the letter name, or by shortening of elbow

Dictionary.com Unabridged

ell

2 [el]
noun
a former measure of length, varying in different countries: in England equal to 45 inches (114 cm).

Origin:
before 950; Middle English, Old English eln; cognate with Old Norse eln, Old High German elina, Gothic aleina, Latin ulna, Greek ōlénē. See elbow

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
ell1 (ɛl)
 
n
an obsolete unit of length equal to approximately 45 inches
 
[Old English eln the forearm (the measure originally being from the elbow to the fingertips); related to Old High German elina, Latin ulna, Greek ōlenē]

ell2 (ɛl)
 
n
1.  an extension to a building, usually at right angles and located at one end
2.  a pipe fitting, pipe, or tube with a sharp right-angle bend
 
[C20: a spelling of L, indicating a right angle]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

ell
O.E. eln "unit of measure of 45 inches," originally "length of the arm," from PIE *el- "elbow, forearm" (cf. Gk. olene "elbow," L. ulna, Arm. uln "shoulder," Skt. anih "part of the leg above the knee," Lith. alkune "elbow"). The exact distance varied, depending on whose arm was used as the base and whether
it was measured from the shoulder to the fingertip or the wrist: the Scot. ell was 37.2 inches, the Flem. 27 inches. L. ulna also was a unit of linear measure.
"Whereas shee tooke an inche of liberty before, tooke an ell afterwardes" [1580].
Sense of "building extension" is Amer.Eng. 1773, for resemblance to the shape of the alphabet letter.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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