noun, plural elves [elvz] /ɛlvz/.

(in folklore) one of a class of preternatural beings, especially from mountainous regions, with magical powers, given to capricious and often mischievous interference in human affairs, and usually imagined to be a diminutive being in human form; sprite; fairy.
a diminutive person, especially a child.
a mischievous person, especially a child.

Nearby words

  1. eleventh chord,
  2. eleventh cranial nerve,
  3. eleventh hour,
  4. elevon,
  5. elevsís,
  6. elf owl,
  7. elf-cup,
  8. elfin,
  9. elfin forest,
  10. elfinwood

Origin of elf

before 1000; Middle English, back formation from elven, Old English elfen nymph (i.e., female elf), variant of ælfen; see elfin

Related formself·like, adjective


Also elf

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Examples from the Web for elf

British Dictionary definitions for elf


noun plural elves (ɛlvz)

(in folklore) one of a kind of legendary beings, usually characterized as small, manlike, and mischievous
a mischievous or whimsical child
Derived Formselflike, adjective

Word Origin for elf

Old English ælf; related to Old Norse elfr elf, Middle Low German alf incubus, Latin albus white


abbreviation for

extremely low frequency
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

Word Origin and History for elf


Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper