elas·​tic·​i·​ty | \i-ˌla-ˈsti-sə-tē, ˌē-ˌla-, -ˈti-stē\
plural elasticities

Definition of elasticity 

1 : the quality or state of being elastic: such as

a : the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation : springiness

b : resilience sense 2

c : the quality of being adaptable

2 : the responsiveness of a dependent economic variable to changes in influencing factors elasticity of demand price elasticity

Examples of elasticity in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

After scaling the volcano with Sandy, our hero uses his small stature and elasticity to set the charge—and the volcano erupts in bubbles, just as Sandy predicted. Sam Walker, WSJ, "Now on Broadway: SpongeBob ChauvinistPants," 11 July 2018 The snatch strap’s elasticity helps to cushion sudden loads on both vehicles and may provide some extra tug to help pull a vehicle free. Wes Siler, Outside Online, "The Gear You Need to Get Your Truck Unstuck," 19 June 2018 Like many memes, its particulars matter less than its elasticity. Jessica Leigh Hester, WIRED, "What Ecologists Can Learn From Memes," 7 May 2018 One substance might protect the skin from the deleterious effect of UV radiation, another compound may enhance skin regeneration and another may act on skin elasticity. Bel Dumé, Scientific American, "For Better Skin Care, Start With Better Combinations of Ingredients," 4 May 2018 Medical professionals believe age and overuse can be key factors in the tendons losing their elasticity and tearing. Rick Armstrong, Aurora Beacon-News, "Armstrong: Olympic gold medalist Morolake Akinosun set to battle back from Achilles injury," 13 June 2018 For strength: Greek yogurt and peanut butter are high in protein, a main building block of great hair and a source of elasticity. Johnny Miller, Allure, "The Great-Hair Diet: What to Eat for Stronger, Healthier Hair," 30 May 2018 There’s just the right amount of lightness, yet with a chewy elasticity that manages to keep these clouds of deliciousness together. Frank Rizzo, courant.com, "Faves & Raves: On A Roll: Max Downtown's Parker House Rolls," 29 Apr. 2018 The fast-fashion giant also is looking at historical sales of individual products to calculate unique sales predictions and price elasticity per product and store. Lara O’reilly, WSJ, "CMO Today: Comcast-Fox Bid Latest; H&M’s Algorithm Push; Adidas Pauses Facebook Video Ads," 8 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elasticity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of elasticity

1664, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of elasticity was in 1664

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Financial Definition of elasticity

What It Is

Elasticity is a measure of how much the quantity demanded of a service/good changes in relation to its price, income or supply.

How It Works

If the quantity demanded changes a lot when prices change a little, a product is said to be elastic. This often is the case for products or services for which there are many alternatives, or for which consumers are relatively price sensitive. For example, if the price of Cola A doubles, the quantity demanded for Cola A will fall when consumers switch to less-expensive Cola B.

When there is a small change in demand when prices change a lot, the product is said to be inelastic. The most famous example of relatively inelastic demand is that for gasoline. As the price of gasoline increases, the quantity demanded doesn't decrease all that much. This is because there are very few good substitutes for gasoline and consumers are still willing to buy it even at relatively high prices.

Why It Matters

Elasticity is important because it describes the fundamental relationship between the price of a good and the demand for that good.

Elastic goods and services generally have plenty of substitutes. As an elastic service/good's price increases, the quantity demanded of that good can drop fast. Example of elastic goods and services include furniture, motor vehicles, instrument engineering products, professional services, and transportation services.

Inelastic goods have fewer substitutes and price change doesn't affect quantity demanded as much. Some inelastic goods include gas, electricity, water, drinks, clothing, tobacco, food, and oil.

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To learn more about specific types of elasticity, see the following:

Income Elasticity of Demand: the responsiveness of quantity demanded to a change in income.
Price Elasticity of Demand (PED): the responsiveness of quantity demanded to a change in  price.
Elasticity of Supply: the responsiveness of the quantity supplied to a change in price.

Source: Investing Answers


elas·​tic·​i·​ty | \i-ˌla-ˈsti-sə-tē \

Kids Definition of elasticity

: the quality or state of being easily stretched


elas·​tic·​i·​ty | \i-ˌlas-ˈtis-ət-ē, ˌē-ˌlas-, -ˈtis-tē \
plural elasticities

Medical Definition of elasticity 

: the quality or state of being elastic

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