el·​e·​ment | \ ˈe-lə-mənt How to pronounce element (audio) \

Definition of element

1a : any of the four substances air, water, fire, and earth formerly believed to compose the physical universe
b elements plural : weather conditions especially : violent or severe weather battling the elements
c : the state or sphere natural or suited to a person or thing at school she was in her element
2 : a constituent part: such as
a elements plural : the simplest principles of a subject of study : rudiments
b(1) : a part of a geometric magnitude an infinitesimal element of volume
(2) : a generator of a geometric figure also : a line or line segment contained in the surface of a cone or cylinder
(3) : a basic member of a mathematical or logical class or set
(4) : one of the individual entries in a mathematical matrix or determinant
c : a distinct group within a larger group or community the criminal element in the city
d(1) : one of the necessary data or values on which calculations or conclusions are based
(2) : one of the factors determining the outcome of a process
e : any of the fundamental substances that consist of atoms of only one kind and that singly or in combination constitute all matter
f : a distinct part of a composite device
g : a subdivision of a military unit
3 elements plural : the bread and wine used in the Eucharist
element table

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Synonyms & Antonyms for element



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Choose the Right Synonym for element

element, component, constituent, ingredient mean one of the parts of a compound or complex whole. element applies to any such part and often connotes irreducible simplicity. the basic elements of geometry component and constituent may designate any of the substances (whether elements or compounds) or the qualities that enter into the makeup of a complex product; component stresses its separate entity or distinguishable character. the components of a stereo system constituent stresses its essential and formative character. the constituents of a chemical compound ingredient applies to any of the substances which when combined form a particular mixture. the ingredients of a cocktail

Examples of element in a Sentence

Water is composed of the elements hydrogen and oxygen. a free press is an essential element of a democracy
Recent Examples on the Web That often is the element that separates regular-season success from playoff success. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "ASK IRA: If Heat come up short, it will be because . . . ?," 9 Oct. 2020 With Carson, the life, the work, the woman were all one, each element in turn easily accountable to the others. Vivian Gornick, The New Republic, "The Anti-Social Novelist," 9 Oct. 2020 At Fills, Benvenuti’s brioche-ish dough uses a little levain to gobble up the sugar, adding a savory and tangy element. Michael Russell, oregonlive, "Fills is bringing Berliner-style doughnuts to original Blue Star Donuts space," 9 Oct. 2020 In 2015, when Ms. Correnti refreshed the décor, local designer Dwayne Bergmann revamped every interior element but one. Christina Poletto, WSJ, "The Newly Trendy Sofa That Will Change the Way You Live," 8 Oct. 2020 Donna Lawrence enjoys the exercise and social element of golf. Ron Kroichick, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area golfer pulls off improbable feat — holes-in-one on consecutive days," 8 Oct. 2020 Purists may hate it, but – like most aspects of life in 2020 – the scoring outburst adds a chaotic element to most any contest, rendering nearly any lead surmountable. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "NFL's 20 biggest surprises at quarter-season mark: Rookies thriving, free agents floundering," 8 Oct. 2020 While Evans could bring a new element to Brown’s squad, the team will also battle high expectations as state rankings have Timberview at No. 7 for Class 5A Division II. Sean Collins, Dallas News, "Mansfield Timberview could be dangerous with Simeon Evans and a developing passing game," 8 Oct. 2020 But Daumier always finds some element of the ridiculous, the fatuous, the smug, even in the poets, writers and critics among his subjects. Washington Post, "I returned to the National Gallery seeking comfort. But art no longer feels like an escape.," 7 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'element.' 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 element

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for element

Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin elementum

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Time Traveler for element

Time Traveler

The first known use of element was in the 13th century

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Statistics for element

Last Updated

16 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Element.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/element. Accessed 20 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for element


How to pronounce element (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of element

chemistry : one of the basic substances that are made of atoms of only one kind and that cannot be separated by ordinary chemical means into simpler substances
: a particular part of something (such as a situation or activity)
: a part of an electrical device that produces heat


el·​e·​ment | \ ˈe-lə-mənt How to pronounce element (audio) \

Kids Definition of element

1 : any of more than 100 substances that cannot by ordinary chemical means be separated into different substances Gold and carbon are elements.
2 : one of the parts of which something is made up There is an element of risk in surfing.
3 : the simplest principles of a subject of study the elements of arithmetic
4 : a member of a mathematical set
5 : the state or place natural to or suited to a person or thing At school I was in my element.
6 elements plural : the forces of nature


el·​e·​ment | \ ˈel-ə-mənt How to pronounce element (audio) \

Medical Definition of element

1 : any of the four substances air, water, fire, and earth formerly believed to compose the physical universe
2 : a constituent part: as
a : any of more than 100 fundamental substances that consist of atoms of only one kind and that singly or in combination constitute all matter
b : one of the distinct parts (as a lens) of a composite device (as a microscope)
c : one of the basic constituent units (as a cell or fiber) of a tissue

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Legal Definition of element

: one of the constituent parts (as a particular act, a mental state, or an attendant circumstance) of a crime as defined by statute that the prosecution must prove to win a conviction

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Comments on element

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