noun, plural elks, (especially collectively) elk for 1, 2.
  1. Also called European elk. the moose, Alces alces.
  2. Also called American elk, wapiti. a large North American deer, Cervus canadensis, the male of which has large, spreading antlers.
  3. a pliable leather used for sport shoes, made originally of elk hide but now of calfskin or cowhide tanned and smoked to resemble elk hide.
  4. (initial capital letter) a member of a fraternal organization (Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks) that supports or contributes to various charitable causes.

Origin of elk

before 900; Middle English; Old English eolc, eolh; cognate with German Elch (Old High German el(a)ho), Latin alcēs, Greek álkē
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for elk

Contemporary Examples of elk

Historical Examples of elk

  • The elk raised his proud, antlered head and looked in my direction.

    A Woman Tenderfoot

    Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson

  • It was now the season when the Elk were bugling on the mountains.

    The Biography of a Grizzly

    Ernest Seton-Thompson

  • He obeyed their directions, and forthwith found himself to be an elk.

    The Indian Fairy Book

    Cornelius Mathews

  • I did not act in a foolish or disorderly manner at all, but Tennessee and Elk River were in me.


    Charles Godfrey Leland

  • When Elk saw the earth, he was so joyous, he rolled over and over on the earth.

British Dictionary definitions for elk


noun plural elks or elk
  1. a large deer, Alces alces, of N Europe and Asia, having large flattened palmate antlers: also occurs in North America, where it is called a moose
  2. American elk another name for wapiti
  3. a stout pliable waterproof leather made from calfskin or horsehide

Word Origin for elk

Old English eolh; related to Old Norse elgr, Old High German elaho, Latin alcēs, Greek alkē, elaphos deer
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 elk

late Old English, from Old Norse elgr or from an alteration of Old English elh, eolh (perhaps via French scribes), or possibly from Middle High German elch (OED's suggestion), all from Proto-Germanic *elkh- (cf. Old High German elaho),

The Germanic words are related to the general word for "deer" in Balto-Slavic (cf. Russian losu, Czech los; also cf. eland), from PIE *olki-, perhaps with reference to the reddish color from root *el- (2) "red, brown" (in animal and tree names); cf. Sanskrit harina- "deer," from hari- "reddish-brown." Greek alke and Latin alces probably are Germanic loan-words. Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks founded N.Y.C. 1868, originally a society of actors and writers.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper