- either of two large, five-toed pachyderms of the family Elephantidae, characterized by a long, prehensile trunk formed of the nose and upper lip, including Loxodonta africana (African elephant), with enormous flapping ears, two fingerlike projections at the end of the trunk, and ivory tusks, and Elephas maximus (Indian elephant), with smaller ears, one projection at the end of the trunk, and ivory tusks almost exclusively in males: L. africana is threatened; E. maximus is endangered.
- a representation of this animal, used in the U.S. since 1874 as the emblem of the Republican Party.
- white elephant.
- Chiefly British. a size of drawing or writing paper, 23 × 28 inches (58 × 71 cm).
Origin of elephant
Examples from the Web for elephants
She worked with wildlife as a volunteer in Peru and the Galapagos; she worked with elephants in Thailand, at a zoo in Australia.Let’s Free Stacey Addison, The Oregon Woman Jailed at the Ends of the Earth
October 30, 2014
And elephants do occasionally use their trunks as snorkels while swimming.Why Aristotle Deserves A Posthumous Nobel
October 18, 2014
Africans are the park rangers protecting the elephants and other wildlife from violent criminal poaching networks.Why the US-Africa Summit Was Important and Why It Wasn't Enough
August 9, 2014
“We can only save African elephants if China and Japan ban the ivory trade,” Thornton told me.A World Without Elephants? Blame China
August 6, 2014
Beijing claims to oppose the illicit traffic in the tusks of elephants butchered by poachers.China’s Blood Ivory Bazaar
June 30, 2014
The white posts of which the fence was made were elephants' tusks!The Leopard Woman
Stewart Edward White
The elephants were examining the bundles that had been thrown down.The Cat of Bubastes
G. A. Henty
The crowd of people were chiefly occupied in looking at the elephants.Rollo in Paris
And the animals that I like to see most, I believe, are the elephants and the camels.
The elephants of Rangoon are as fascinating as the camels of Peking.
- Australian slang drunk; intoxicated
- either of the two proboscidean mammals of the family Elephantidae . The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is the larger species, with large flapping ears and a less humped back than the Indian elephant (Elephas maximus), of S and SE Asia
- mainly British a size of writing paper, 23 by 28 inches
- elephant in the room an obvious truth deliberately ignored by all parties in a situation
Word Origin and History for elephants
c.1300, olyfaunt, from Old French oliphant (12c.), from Latin elephantus, from Greek elephas (genitive elephantos) "elephant, ivory," probably from a non-Indo-European language, likely via Phoenician (cf. Hamitic elu "elephant," source of the word for it in many Semitic languages, or possibly from Sanskrit ibhah "elephant").
Re-spelled after 1550 on Latin model. As an emblem of the Republican Party in U.S. politics, 1860. To see the elephant "be acquainted with life, gain knowledge by experience" is an American English colloquialism from 1835.