elves

[elvz]
See more synonyms for elves on Thesaurus.com

elf

[elf]
noun, plural elves [elvz] /ɛlvz/.
  1. (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.
  2. a diminutive person, especially a child.
  3. a mischievous person, especially a child.

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

Synonyms for elf

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1. See fairy.

elve

[elv]
noun
  1. an extremely dim, flattened, expanding, reddish glow briefly seen over a thunderstorm, due to electromagnetic pulses from intense lightning.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for elves

pixie, leprechaun, fairy, brownie, fay, elfin

Examples from the Web for elves

Contemporary Examples of elves

Historical Examples of elves

  • The elves, and nixies and sprites, of all colors and many forms were on hand.

    Welsh Fairy Tales

    William Elliott Griffis

  • At his birth the elves and the fairies were summoned together.

    Imogen

    William Godwin

  • He invoked the spirit of his mother; he brought together an assembly of elves and goblins.

    Imogen

    William Godwin

  • Wild Robin was safe, and the elves had lost their power over him forever.

  • "Elves" they were called, and they were thought of as a cleanly and kindly race.

    History of Religion

    Allan Menzies


British Dictionary definitions for elves

elves

noun
  1. the plural of elf

ELF

abbreviation for
  1. extremely low frequency

elf

noun plural elves (ɛlvz)
  1. (in folklore) one of a kind of legendary beings, usually characterized as small, manlike, and mischievous
  2. 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
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 elves

elf

n.

"one of a race of powerful supernatural beings in Germanic folklore," Old English elf (Mercian, Kentish), ælf (Northumbrian), ylfe (plural, West Saxon), from Proto-Germanic *albiz (cf. Old Saxon alf, Old Norse alfr, German alp "evil spirit, goblin, incubus"), origin unknown, possibly from PIE *albho- "white." Used figuratively for "mischievous person" from 1550s.

In addition to elf/ælf (masc.), Old English had parallel form *elfen (fem.), the plural of which was *elfenna, -elfen, from Proto-Germanic *albinjo-. Both words survived into Middle English and were active there, the former as elf (with the vowel of the plural), plural elves, the latter as elven, West Midlands dialect alven (plural elvene).

The Germanic elf originally was dwarfish and malicious (cf. Old English ælfadl "nightmare," ælfsogoða "hiccup," thought to be caused by elves); in the Middle Ages they were confused to some degree with faeries; the more noble version begins with Spenser. Nonetheless a popular component in Anglo-Saxon names, many of which survive as modern given names and surnames, cf. Ælfræd "Elf-counsel" (Alfred), Ælfwine "Elf-friend" (Alvin), Ælfric "Elf-ruler" (Eldridge), also women's names such as Ælfflæd "Elf-beauty." Elf Lock hair tangled, especially by Queen Mab, "which it was not fortunate to disentangle" [according to Robert Nares' glossary of Shakespeare] is from 1592.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

elves in Science

elve

[ĕlv]
  1. An extremely dim, short-lived, expanding disk of reddish light above thunderstorms, believed to be caused by electromagnetic pulses from intense lightning in the lower ionosphere. Elves last less than a second and can be as wide as 500 km (310 mi) in diameter.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

elves in Culture

elves

Often small, mischievous creatures thought to have magical powers. Although some elves are friendly to humans, others are spiteful and destructive. Elves have long been a staple of folklore, from Germanic mythology to J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, in which the elves speak a special language called Elvish.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.