el·​bow | \ ˈel-ˌbō \

Definition of elbow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the joint of the human arm
b : a corresponding joint in the anterior limb of a lower vertebrate
2 : something (such as macaroni or an angular pipe fitting) resembling an elbow
at one's elbow
: at one's side
out at elbows or out at the elbows
1 : shabbily dressed
2 : short of funds


elbowed; elbowing; elbows

Definition of elbow (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to push with the elbow : jostle
b : to shove aside by pushing with or as if with the elbow people elbowed each other to get a better view
2 : to force (one's way) by pushing with or as if with the elbow elbowing our way through the crowd

intransitive verb

1 : to advance by pushing with the elbow
2 : to make an angle : turn

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Examples of elbow in a Sentence


He wore a tattered coat with holes in the elbows.


The actor's bodyguards rudely elbowed everyone out of the way. Everyone was shoving and elbowing to get a good position.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Meanwhile, Travis appears to the left of Drake's elbow in the same shot. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kendall and Kylie Went to Drake's New Year's Eve Party Amidst His Feud with Kanye," 2 Jan. 2019 Even while Meghan and Kate leaned in to each other, Meghan kept a hand at Harry's elbow. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "This Is Why Meghan and Harry Showed PDA While William and Kate Didn't at Christmas Service," 25 Dec. 2018 The figure of Cormery’s domineering grandmother, taking a rawhide switch to the troublemaking boy or up to her elbow in a toilet recovering a two-franc piece, is a synecdoche for the country’s intransigence and desperation. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Book Review: Classics Illustrated," 16 Nov. 2018 Look around to make sure no one’s watching, and then stare at your elbow. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "2017 earthquake off Mexico broke through an entire tectonic plate," 4 Oct. 2018 While maintaining a straight back and stabilizing through your abdominals, bend your elbows and lower your torso towards the floor until your arms form a 90 degree angle. Yolanda Edwards, Condé Nast Traveler, "Super Trainer Kayla Itsines on Staying in Shape at 35,000 Feet," 23 July 2018 And Antonio Blakeney continued the need to ice his shooting elbow, scoring 24 points on 22 shots. K.c. Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "As Bulls' summer league concludes, GM Gar Forman addresses play of 1st-round picks," 14 July 2018 Most of us can extend our elbow completely straight, but Ethan’s will only go maybe 90% of the way. Emily Lieber, Good Housekeeping, "A Rare Disease Handed My Sweet Baby Boy a Death Sentence — But I’m Fighting Like Hell to Save Him," 13 July 2018 Their starting pitcher, John Lamb, blew out his elbow. Tom Verducci, SI.com, "The Star That Still Won't Shine: The Incredible, Unprecedented but Unseen Greatness of Mike Trout," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

People elbow each other for views of the sunset at rooftop terraces in Oia, but the sunset view from our balcony was just as fabulous and much more comfortable—and private. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, "Where to Go, Where to Eat, and What to See at Instagram's Favorite Destination," 21 Dec. 2018 Throngs of people elbow each other in the lines as toddlers and elderly people take up the seats. Beatrice Christofaro, Fox News, "Despite strong laws, domestic violence in Brazil is rampant," 21 Sep. 2018 Buehler, 23, zoomed up the Dodgers system all the way from Class A as his fastball picked up extra velocity in his first full season after Tommy John elbow surgery. Usa Today Sports, USA TODAY, "NL West: One burning question facing every team," 9 Mar. 2018 Preparing to head out and elbow your way through the worst of humanity in the stores this afternoon? Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Kate Middleton Took Prince George and Princess Charlotte Christmas Shopping at a Bargain Store," 24 Dec. 2018 Don't elbow your way to the front of the line because your voice is louder. Olivia Fleming, Harper's BAZAAR, "Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher Open Up About Confronting Jeff Flake in the Elevator," 29 Oct. 2018 Specifically, Ardmore native Wendell Holland, who elbowed out a fellow finalist during Tribal Council to win big this week on Survivor: Ghost Island and take home a $1 million prize. Oona Goodin-smith, Philly.com, "Making the most of your Memorial Day weekend, court upholds transgender student rights| Morning Newsletter," 25 May 2018 Few things terrify today’s bank CEOs more than the specter of a big technology company elbowing them aside. Peter Rudegeair, WSJ, "A $150,000 Small Business Loan—From an App," 28 Dec. 2018 And the sleeves zipped away from wrist to elbow, almost giving me these Beyoncé-style wings. Anonymous, Glamour, "What I Wore to Get Divorced," 29 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elbow.' 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 elbow


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1605, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for elbow


Middle English elbowe, from Old English elboga, from el- (akin to eln ell) + Old English boga bow — more at ell, bow

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Statistics for elbow

Last Updated

20 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for elbow

The first known use of elbow was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for elbow



English Language Learners Definition of elbow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the joint where your arm bends
: the part of a piece of clothing that covers the elbow
: something (such as a pipe or a piece of food) that is bent like an elbow



English Language Learners Definition of elbow (Entry 2 of 2)

: to push or shove (someone) with your elbow


el·​bow | \ ˈel-ˌbō \

Kids Definition of elbow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the joint or the region of the joint of the arm or of the same part of an animal's front legs
2 : a part (as of a pipe) bent like an elbow


elbowed; elbowing

Kids Definition of elbow (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to jab with an elbow
2 : to push or force a way with or as if with the elbows He elbowed his way past Officer Delinko …— Carl Hiaasen, Hoot


el·​bow | \ ˈel-ˌbō \

Medical Definition of elbow

1 : the joint between the human forearm and the upper arm that supports the outer curve of the arm when bent

called also elbow joint

2 : a joint in the anterior limb of a lower vertebrate corresponding to the elbow

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More from Merriam-Webster on elbow

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with elbow

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for elbow

Spanish Central: Translation of elbow

Nglish: Translation of elbow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of elbow for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about elbow

Comments on elbow

What made you want to look up elbow? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a servile follower or underling

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