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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Closing time: The Heat had a last-gasp chance when Brown was called for a flagrant foul for an elbow to Robinson’s face with 63 seconds left and the Celtics up 109-101. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "No comeback this time for Heat, lead in East finals down to 2-1 after 117-106 loss to Celtics," 19 Sep. 2020 Great Pause does offer the opportunity for a reset in the elbow-rubbing relationship between pols and press. Washington Post, "Washington’s cozy media-political cocktail circuit needs a cooling-off. Now is the perfect time.," 15 Sep. 2020 The elbow to the ribs came before 3 a.m. on a Sunday in late August, an abrupt wake-up call that Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy wasn’t ready for. Dan Wiederer, chicagotribune.com, "A pandemic? Stadiums without fans? Social justice tensions? Why 2020 could be the NFL’s craziest season yet.," 12 Sep. 2020 Both defensive end Marcus Davenport (elbow) and offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz (ankle) were officially declared out on Friday's practice participation report. Luke Johnson, NOLA.com, "Saints rule Marcus Davenport, Cesar Ruiz out for the opener; Bucs' Mike Evans doubtful," 11 Sep. 2020 Reach the elbow back and turn the head to the right slightly to look up toward the ceiling. Stephanie Mansour, CNN, "Got a stress headache? This 5-minute routine brings relief," 9 Sep. 2020 This year, elbow-bumps replaced hugs, and fewer staff were present as all the educators were teaching virtually, and only some from the school building. James Whitlow, baltimoresun.com, "Aberdeen Middle Learning Support Center opens for first day of virtual learning, putting education in students' hands," 8 Sep. 2020 Slater also has been dealing with a flexor strain in his right elbow that still prevents him from playing in the outfield. Steve Kroner, SFChronicle.com, "Giants’ Austin Slater returns, hits leadoff against Diamondbacks’ Madison Bumgarner," 5 Sep. 2020 In other medical news, pitcher Tyler Chatwood (right elbow) started his throwing program Monday. Mark Gonzales, chicagotribune.com, "Cubs claim speedster Billy Hamilton off waivers from the Mets, while Jason Heyward could return Tuesday," 7 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 For Paxton specifically, that meant that there was no time to build up each pitch, which all have different stresses on the arm and elbow. Kristie Ackert, courant.com, "James Paxton blames short spring training on rash of injuries, including his own," 22 Aug. 2020 Then a second thought seemed to elbow its way in, and Trump interrupted himself. Mattathias Schwartz, New York Times, "The Axios Interview Showed Us an Important Threshold for the President," 19 Aug. 2020 But as two of the coaches bent their arms to do elbow bumps with players (a celebration that has been adopted to follow coronavirus protocols), Christenson was filmed raising his right arm into a Nazi salute. Jason Duaine Hahn, PEOPLE.com, "Oakland Athletics Coach Ryan Christenson Apologizes for 'Unintentionally' Making Apparent Nazi Salute," 7 Aug. 2020 Clowney, however, comes with a scary injury history, including multiple knee surgeries, elbow sprains and core injuries. John Owning, Dallas News, "Jadeveon Clowney isn’t the free agent DE who Cowboys fans should be clamoring for," 3 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about elbow

Time Traveler for elbow

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for elbow

Last Updated

23 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Elbow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elbow. Accessed 1 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!