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 By demanding tight financial and creative control over their shows, and throwing sharp legal elbows to keep it, the duo made sure their musical-theater empire sustained themselves. Fortune Editors, Fortune, "Fortune Writers and Editors Recommend Their Favorite Books of 2019," 8 Dec. 2019 Molon Labe Seating, a start-up based in Colorado, proposed staggering three seat rows and making the middle seat wider to provide a more comfortable set up that provides more space for passengers' elbows. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, "Find it hard to sleep on planes? This new design for economy seating aims to change that," 8 Dec. 2019 Pay no attention to those recent elbow and toe woes that landed him on the injury list; Brady was removed from the report Friday. BostonGlobe.com, "(heel), cornerback," 7 Dec. 2019 For the Thunder, Andre Roberson (left knee injury recovery), Terrance Ferguson (right hip soreness) and Hamidou Diallo (right elbow sprain) are out. Joe Freeman | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Portland Trail Blazers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Game preview, TV channel, how to watch live stream online," 7 Dec. 2019 Chiefs at Patriots: Key injuries Brady (toe, right elbow), WR Mohamed Sanu Sr. Ryan R. Bonini, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots odds, lines, picks and best bets," 5 Dec. 2019 Keeping either the wrists or elbows bent for too long puts extra strain on the joints and the nerves across them, Carter explains. Sarah Digiulio, NBC News, "11 posture mistakes you're probably making — and how to fix them," 4 Dec. 2019 Walker will sit for the third time in four games, while Hand has played two games this season because of elbow and ankle injuries. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Trey Flowers, Frank Ragnow among 6 Detroit Lions out vs. Washington," 22 Nov. 2019 Chinese, Italian, Greek, Hawaiian, Irish, Mexican, Jamaican, American — all of them throwing elbows on a menu that puts a high-tone sea bass and a $38 cowboy rib-eye on the same page as meatloaf, enchiladas and spaghetti. Mike Sutter, ExpressNews.com, "Review: Conroy’s Bar & Grill gets a global buzz going at its Stone Oak restaurant," 21 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Nashville's Ryan Johansen was ejected in the second period for elbowing Point. Mike Brehm, USA TODAY, "Lightning's Erik Cernak, recently back from suspension, delivers another questionable hit," 4 Dec. 2019 Other bacterial species secrete antibiotics to prevent competitors from elbowing into their territory. Carrie Arnold, Quanta Magazine, "Building Codes for Bacterial Cities," 25 July 2017 Next, the Bastille leader poses as a bald man clad in white hazmat suit, who kills his previous waiter persona by elbowing him in the face. Heran Mamo, Billboard, "Bastille's Dan Smith Plays a Self-Help Expert (And Mass Murderer) in 'Bad Decisions' Music Video," 25 Sep. 2019 He was hurt Tuesday when he was elbowed during a pickup game. Brian Mahoney, The Denver Post, "Injured Kevin Durant likely won’t play this season, Brooklyn Nets say," 24 Sep. 2019 Bellemare was elbowed in the head by Columbus captain Nick Foligno in the neutral zone, after Bellemare dumped the puck in the Jackets’ end. Mike Chambers, The Denver Post, "Avs sweep their two-game homestand after beating Blue Jackets," 9 Nov. 2019 While listed on the injury report, starting right tackle Jesse Davis (elbow/toe), linebacker Vince Biegel (neck), Lammons (ankle/toe) and Needham (foot) were full participants for the second straight practice. Safid Deen, sun-sentinel.com, "Dolphins’ Reshad Jones finally returns to practice, but will he play against Jets?," 31 Oct. 2019 Today, pedestrians and cyclists elbow for more space alongside cars. Andrea Salcedo, New York Times, "Cars All but Banned on One of Manhattan’s Busiest Streets," 3 Oct. 2019 The music video, which dropped Friday, sees the pair perform a hip-hop version of the chicken dance — elbows out, legs bent and all. Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times, "BTS star J-Hope and Becky G’s ‘Chicken Noodle Soup’ spawns a dance challenge," 27 Sep. 2019

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

11 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Elbow.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elbowing. Accessed 14 December 2019.

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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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