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


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

Step one is to clean out the little plastic elbow that leads from the condensate pan. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "The DIY Guide To Fixing Your Leaky Air Conditioner," 15 Mar. 2019 An investment bank might recruit good soldiers who can immerse themselves in the corporate identity and wield sharp elbows to rise in the ranks. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "Companies Hire on Potential—If Only They Knew What That Meant," 12 Mar. 2019 Anyone who’s fallen off a bed or taken an elbow to the face knows that. Kasandra Brabaw, SELF, "So, You Got Semen in Your Eye. Here's What to Do," 1 Mar. 2019 This also isn't Duchess Camilla's first time brushing elbows with the fashion set. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Duchess Camilla Sits Front-Row at London Fashion Week on the Queen's Behalf," 19 Feb. 2019 The chic piece of wool outwear is from the English brand's Fall 2018 collection and features a short cape that falls down the elbows, as well as a belt and large buttons. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Wears a Blue Mulberry Cape Coat in Ballymena, Northern Ireland," 28 Feb. 2019 After applying her moisturizer, Svay rubs castor oil on her knees, elbows, and other dry patches to layer up and seal in moisture. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "The 5 Best Benefits of Castor Oil Are Mostly for Your Hair and Skin," 15 Feb. 2019 The actress’s glittering satin adornment extended sideways well past her shoulders and down to her elbows, a bow that had mutated into a pair of wings. Elizabeth Holmes, WSJ, "Can a Grown Woman Wear a Hair Bow?," 13 Feb. 2019 No model death stare here, this was a performance pulsing with life and curiosity and ever-changing movement from her eyes, her chin, her elbows, her wrists. Jordan Roth, Vogue, "Jordan Roth: A Man’s View on the Haute Couture," 28 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

England had a penalty shout go against them within the first minute as Gabriel Gomez elbowed Jesse Lingard in the face. SI.com, "England 6-1 Panama: Three Lions Roar With Biggest Ever World Cup Win to Book Last 16 Spot," 24 June 2018 Some suggest Lesnar went off script by elbowing Reigns and turning his head into a bloody mess. Troy L. Smith, cleveland.com, "WrestleMania 34's biggest fight apparently happened after the show," 9 Apr. 2018 Infielder Allen Cordoba, outfielder Alex Dickerson (elbow) and pitcher Colin Rea (lat) will all be placed on the 60-day disabled list. Kevin Acee, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Padres appear ready to go with three catchers," 25 Mar. 2018 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

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 Mar 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 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

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).


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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