|a printed punctuation mark (‽), available only in some typefaces, designed to combine the question mark (?) and the exclamation point (!), indicating a mixture of query and interjection, as after a rhetorical question.|
|a calculus or concretion found in the stomach or intestines of certain animals, esp. ruminants, formerly reputed to be an effective remedy for poison.|
|—n , pl elves|
|1.||(in folklore) one of a kind of legendary beings, usually characterized as small, manlike, and mischievous|
|2.||a mischievous or whimsical child|
|[Old English ælf; related to Old Norse elfr elf, Middle Low German alf incubus, Latin albus white]|
|extremely low frequency|
|elve (ělv) Pronunciation Key
An extremely dim, short-lived, expanding disk of reddish light above thunderstorms, believed to be caused by electromagnetic pulses from intense lightning in the lower ionosphere. Elves last less than a second and can be as wide as 500 km (310 mi) in diameter.
Often small, mischievous creatures thought to have magical powers. Although some elves are friendly to humans, others are spiteful and destructive. Elves have long been a staple of folklore, from Germanic mythology to J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, in which the elves speak a special language called Elvish.
extremely low frequency
in Germanic folklore, originally, a spirit of any kind, later specialized into a diminutive creature, usually in tiny human form. In the Prose, or Younger, Edda, elves were classified as light elves (who were fair) and dark elves (who were darker than pitch); these classifications are roughly equivalent to the Scottish seelie court and unseelie court. The notable characteristics of elves were mischief and volatility. They were believed at various times and in various regions to cause diseases in humans and cattle, to sit upon the breast of a sleeper and give him bad dreams (the German word for nightmare is Alpdrucken, or "elf-pressure"), and to steal human children and substitute changelings (deformed or weak elf or fairy children). In the British Isles, flint implements called elf-bolts, elf-arrows, or elf-shot (which are now known to be prehistoric tools used by the aboriginal Irish and the early Scots) were believed to be the weapons with which elves injured cattle. Elves occasionally also were benevolent and helpful. The second edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica, which was published in 1777-84, calls the word elf obsolete but reports that belief in such creatures "still subsists in many parts of our own country. . . In the Highlands of Scotland, new-born children are watched till the christening is over, lest they should be stolen or changed by some of these phantastical existences." In time, elves came to be indistinct from fairies, though both older classics-such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's poem "Der Erlkonig" ("The Elf King")-and such modern classics as J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (1954-55) still treat elves as a distinct type.
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