• synonyms


  1. Botany. an elastic filament serving to disperse spores.
  2. Zoology. elaterid.
  3. Obsolete. elasticity.
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Origin of elater

1645–55; < New Latin < Greek elatḗr driver, equivalent to ela- (stem of elaúnein to drive; see elastic) + -tēr noun suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for elater

Historical Examples

  • Certain species of the elater beetles are familiar to every school-boy.

    Harper's Young People, July 20, 1880


  • Hence their name of Elater (derived from the same root as the word elastic).

    The Insect World

    Louis Figuier

  • Furthermore, the spirals may be smooth or spinulose the elater uniform throughout or enlarged betimes by nodes and swellings.

    The North American Slime-Moulds

    Thomas H. (Thomas Huston) MacBride

  • She doubtless has confounded it with the Cucujus, Elater noctilucus.

  • A remarkable difference obtains between the larva of the wire-worm and that of Elater undulatus.

British Dictionary definitions for elater


  1. an elaterid beetle
  2. botany a spirally thickened filament, occurring in liverwort capsules and horsetails, thought to aid dispersal of spores
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Word Origin

C17: via New Latin from Greek: driver, from elaunein to beat, drive; compare elastic
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

elater in Science


  1. A tiny elongated structure that helps disperse plant spores by coiling and uncoiling in response to changes in humidity. The elaters of horsetails are bands attached to the spore wall, while those of liverworts are sterile cells occurring among the spores.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.