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 Pence elbow bumped the governor and senator in greeting. Chris Sikich, The Indianapolis Star, "Vice President Mike Pence postpones Friday appearance to vote in Indianapolis," 9 Oct. 2020 The Saints also will be without Marcus Davenport (elbow/toe) for the fourth straight game. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Michael Thomas, 5 other New Orleans Saints starters ruled out of game vs. Detroit Lions," 2 Oct. 2020 Within an elbow’s distance, a man sat cross-legged with a couple of pails of shrimp, one of several shrimp sellers hawking their catch. Smita Sharma, National Geographic, "Stolen lives: The harrowing story of two girls sold into sexual slavery," 28 Sep. 2020 Instead of shaking hands, the lawmakers have elbow-bumped with Judge Barrett. Natalie Andrews, WSJ, "Senate Republicans Say Coronavirus Won’t Delay Supreme Court Nomination," 2 Oct. 2020 In addition to those three, defensive end Marcus Davenport (elbow/toe), tight end Jared Cook (groin) and guard Andrus Peat (ankle) will also not play this weekend. Amie Just | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "6 Saints starters ruled out for Lions game, including Marshon Lattimore, Janoris Jenkins, Michael Thomas," 2 Oct. 2020 Littell was limited to 6⅓ innings because of right elbow inflammation, as well as ineffectiveness. La Velle E. Neal Iii, Star Tribune, "Twins player-by-player look ahead: Will they stay or will they go?," 2 Oct. 2020 While dressers packed away the runway garments, Rizzo and Messina stood outside the pavilion elbow-bumping and blowing kisses to well-wishers. Laura Rysman, New York Times, "In a Vast, Empty Swimming Pool, a Fashion Show," 29 Sep. 2020 Bryant, who is batting .205, also has coped with a left elbow injury while extending his swing during an at-bat in late July. Mark Gonzales, chicagotribune.com, "Kris Bryant responds to critics with his bat — and some profanity — after hitting a grand slam in the Cubs’ loss to the White Sox," 27 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb On defense, Geno Atkins (shoulder), Mike Daniels (elbow) and Logan Wilson (concussion) won’t play Sunday vs. Jacksonville. Tyler Dragon, The Enquirer, "Cincinnati Bengals RB Joe Mixon (chest) listed as questionable for Week 4," 3 Oct. 2020 Also missing were LB Foye Oluokun (hamstring), OT Kaleb McGary (knee), DE Takk McKinley (groin), S Ricardo Allen (elbow) and CB A.J. Terrell (COVID-19 reserve list). Paul Newberry, Star Tribune, "Another Falcons collapse: Foles' 3 TDs lead 30-26 Bears win," 27 Sep. 2020 No change was made to the statuses of wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle), defensive end Marcus Davenport (elbow) and linebacker Chase Hansen (hip). Amie Just | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "Saints' injury report: Team doesn't practice, but 3 new injuries to report for key players," 23 Sep. 2020 Brown, elbow bumping each of the men in uniform, thanked them for their efforts. oregonlive, "Gov. Brown surveys Almeda fire devastation, honors two Jackson County sheriff’s deputies for saving lives," 22 Sep. 2020 Most are wearing masks, even outside, elbow-bumping instead of high-fiving, and attempting to stay in small groups, said Adesanya, a 20-year-old senior from Brooklyn who is president of the student government. Keshia Clukey, Bloomberg.com, "Colleges Become Reservoirs of Covid Threatening to Spill Over," 21 Sep. 2020 The Giants needed the right-hander to pitch deep into the game because their bullpen has been overworked and their starters this weekend, Kevin Gausman (elbow) and Johnny Cueto (hip), have had physical issues. John Shea, SFChronicle.com, "Without Yastrzemski, punchless Giants fall to A’s in opener of key series," 18 Sep. 2020 Walker also said rookie RHP Nate Pearson (10-day IL, elbow tightness) threw a bullpen Saturday and is expected back soon. Ken Powtak, Star Tribune, "Biggio's 2-run double caps big 5th; Jays beat Red Sox 10-8," 6 Sep. 2020 There should be no hand shaking and coughs and sneezes should be covered into the sleeve or elbow. Madeline Mitchell, The Enquirer, "What you need to know about Ohio's performing arts and entertainment venue order," 25 Aug. 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

17 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Elbow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elbow. Accessed 26 Oct. 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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