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[ey-lahn, ey-lan; French ey-lahn] /eɪˈlɑn, eɪˈlæn; French eɪˈlɑ̃/
dash; impetuous ardor:
to dance with great élan.
Origin of élan
1875-80; French, Middle French eslan a dash, rush, noun derivative of eslancer to dart, equivalent to es- ex-1 + lancer to lance1
Can be confused
éclat, élan. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for elan
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Besides, there isnt any dead body awaiting his elan on that ship or any ship.

    A Place in the Sun C.H. Thames
  • The course of the aqueduct from elan to Birmingham was marked by a thin red line.

    The Blue Germ Martin Swayne
  • My friend Sarakoff and I introduced the germ that we discovered into the elan reservoirs.

    The Blue Germ Martin Swayne
  • On the north lay the river elan and on the south the steep side of a mountain towered up against the luminous sky.

    The Blue Germ Martin Swayne
  • elan was its characteristic—but it was hard to reduce to the stratified regularity of an army.

  • Daim is the French for deer, and cerf for stag; elan is the true term, when one would speak of an elk.

    The Last of the Mohicans James Fenimore Cooper
  • It was not an ordinary movement, but an intense rush made with all the elan and vigour of hardy and highly-trained men.

British Dictionary definitions for elan


/eɪˈlɑːn; eɪˈlæn; French elɑ̃/
a combination of style and vigour: he performed the concerto with élan
Word Origin
C19: from French, from élancer to throw forth, ultimately from Latin lancealance
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 elan

1877, from French élan (16c.), "spring, bound, impetus," noun derived from élancer "to rush, dart," from Old French elancer, from e- "out" (see ex-) + lancer "to throw," originally "to throw a lance," from Late Latin lanceare, from Latin lancea (see lance (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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