Definition of élan
: vigorous spirit or enthusiasm
élan was our Word of the Day on 08/10/2017. Hear the podcast!
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Examples of élan in a Sentence
The dancer performed with great élan.
Recent Examples of élan from the Web
Macron, for all his youthful elan, received little enthusiasm from young voters, who flocked to Le Pen and leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
The one musician who captured Heggie’s dramatic gestures was cellist Andrew Shulman, who dug into his part with elan and lyricism.
Davis falls for the elan of Paris, an artsy city where a black man is an equal, while Cocteau sneers at the shallowness of America, with its worship of productivity over pondering.
Her Twitter feed is like Sherlock Holmes on jet-boots and infused with James Bond elan; also humor, which always helps.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'élan.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Once upon a time, English speakers did not have "élan" (the word, that is; that's not to say we haven't always had potential for vigorous spirit). We had, however, "elance," a verb meaning "to hurl" that was used specifically for throwing lances and darts. "Elance" derived down the line from Middle French (s')eslancer ("to rush or dash"), itself from lancer, meaning "to hurl." With the decline of lance-throwing, we tossed out "elance" a century and half ago. Just about that time we found "élan," a noun that traces to "(s')eslancer." We copied "élan" in form from the French, but we dispensed with the French sense of a literal "rush" or "dash," retaining the sense of enthusiastic animation that we sometimes characterize as "dash."
ÉLAN Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of élan for English Language Learners
: energy and enthusiasm
Seen and Heard
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