el·​bow | \ ˈel-ˌbō How to pronounce elbow (audio) \

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

Noun He wore a tattered coat with holes in the elbows. Verb 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 Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow when coughing or sneezing. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "How coronavirus spread from East Lansing bar to the Grosse Pointes," 27 June 2020 The officer took a step back, then stepped forward and extended his right elbow around the protester's neck, according to the video. Helen Wieffering, The Arizona Republic, "'Instant chaos': Police shot into crowd minutes after beginning to clear road for Trump," 26 June 2020 Roethlisberger, 38, had his 2019 season ended by a Week 2 elbow injury. Dave Clark, The Enquirer, "Ben Roethlisberger acknowledges off-field addictions to alcohol, pornography," 24 June 2020 From the wide ruffle hem and square neckline to the elbow-length sleeves and matching belt, this cotton dress should bring you joy. NBC News, "Best summer dresses to shop in 2020, according to experts," 22 June 2020 Teeth, engineered to impale and hold struggling prey, sliced a vein below his elbow. Kimberly Miller, USA TODAY, "Python hunter alone in Florida Everglades suffers bloody bite, brings home 17-foot snake," 19 June 2020 One of them, Jess Manning, said that Fortoul used his elbow to pin her by the neck against the wall outside of a downtown Phoenix bar. Lorraine Longhi, azcentral, "Prominent Phoenix muralist accused of sexual misconduct, racist comments," 17 June 2020 Abel says he’s been cleared for full activity as of a few days ago, some 14 months since undergoing elbow surgery. oregonlive, "Pitching standout Kevin Abel returns to Oregon State with one goal: ‘Just win. Win as many games as possible.’," 17 June 2020 Inside the car, police say, Reed grabbed the arm of the driver and struck an officer with his elbow. Eric Tucker, Houston Chronicle, "Texas parents of US man held in Moscow demand fair trial for son," 16 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Too many doorknobs to paw at and elevator buttons to elbow. David Ferry, SFChronicle.com, "Everything you need to know about camping in California this summer," 25 June 2020 On Monday, The Walking Dead star introduced fans and followers to his older child, son Karter, sharing a photo to Instagram of the youngster wearing a helmet, elbow pads and a wrist guard. Jen Juneau, PEOPLE.com, "Khary Payton Introduces Son Karter: 'He Was Born Female But Has Always Identified as a Boy'," 16 June 2020 For example, don’t shake hands, do elbow bumps, or give hugs. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, "Coronavirus safety: Tips for getting a haircut, eating out, going to a hotel, hosting a gathering," 15 June 2020 Everyone's wearing masks and elbow bumping, putting this fully into the 2020 zeitgeist. Sebastian Blanco, Car and Driver, "Ferrari SF90 Stradale Stars in Promotional Rehash of Classic Speed-Driving Short Film," 15 June 2020 And no high-fives — or even elbow bumps — at the gym. Mike Stobbe, Anchorage Daily News, "CDC posts long-awaited tips for minimizing everyday coronavirus risk," 12 June 2020 And no high-fives - or even elbow bumps - at the gym. CBS News, "CDC posts tips for minimizing everyday coronavirus risk," 12 June 2020 Crouching in the sheltered harbor of the Monterey marina beside a sailboat christened Diablito, Prakash slides his arm elbow deep into the water and draws up a length of fishing line. Emily Underwood, The Atlantic, "The Search for the World’s Simplest Animal," 8 June 2020 An officer dressed all in black with plastic shin guards and elbow pads, dangling zip ties from his belt, pepper sprayed me point blank in the face. Linda Tirado, The New Republic, "Police Blinded Me in One Eye. I Can Still See Why My Country’s on Fire.," 4 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for elbow

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for elbow

Last Updated

1 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Elbow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elbow. Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for elbow


How to pronounce elbow (audio)

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 How to pronounce elbow (audio) \

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 How to pronounce elbow (audio) \

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for elbow

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

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