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[el-boh-room, -roo m] /ˈɛl boʊˌrum, -ˌrʊm/
ample room; space in which to move freely.
scope; opportunity:
a job with elbowroom.
Origin of elbowroom
First recorded in 1530-40; elbow + room Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for elbow room
Historical Examples
  • What it lacked in conveniences it made up in opportunities and elbow room.

    The Lani People J. F. Bone
  • He had to have elbow room no matter where he had to go to get it.

    Blue Ridge Country Jean Thomas
  • I prefer the mountains, where at any rate you have elbow room.

    The Smuggler Chief Gustave Aimard
  • Sunshine and thin air are abundant, however, and elbow room.

    Trees Worth Knowing Julia Ellen Rogers
  • Some persons, as she reflected, are permitted an amount of elbow room altogether disproportionate to their deserts.

  • A quaint old writer says that the presence of a saint 'hinders the devil of elbow room to do his tricks.'

    Expositions of Holy Scripture

    Alexander Maclaren
  • This gave the masses of ice much more “elbow room,” and decreased the danger of capsizing.

    The Telegraph Messenger Boy Edward S. Ellis
  • Lack o' exercise an' fresh air, an' elbow room hev done fur poor Sol Hyde at last.

    The Free Rangers Joseph A. Altsheler
  • And all because the Screwing Company would not buy land enough to get elbow room.

    Cradock Nowell, Vol. 2 (of 3) Richard Doddridge Blackmore
  • There was plenty of elbow room; no more of the overcrowding they had suffered since they landed.

    Our Casualty And Other Stories James Owen Hannay, AKA George A. Birmingham
British Dictionary definitions for elbow room


/ˈɛlbəʊˌruːm; -ˌrʊm/
sufficient scope to move or function
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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Slang definitions & phrases for elbow room

elbow room

noun phrase

Barely enough space for the occupant; a minimum of space: This office is so crowded I couldn't find elbow room for anyone else/ Don't crowd so, give me elbow room

[1700s+; propagated in the US because it was a nickname for General John Burgoyne, who boasted in the 1770s that he would find elbow room in this country]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with elbow room

elbow room

Enough space to move about, as in Two hundred on the stage? There won't be any elbow room. This term alludes to having enough room to extend one's elbows. [ Late 1500s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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