element

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for element

Synonyms

building block, component, constituent, factor, ingredient, member

Antonyms

whole

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

There has to be an element of the supernatural, blood and guts, or a serial killer lurking in the dark in order to get that genre stamp of approval. Kellee Terrell, Harper's BAZAAR, "Jen McGowan's Feminist Horror Rust Creek Is Exactly What Hollywood Needs Right Now," 22 Jan. 2019 Here’s Motorola’s full statement: As mentioned at the event, the network and demo elements were pre-commercial and set up in the matter of days. Sean Hollister, The Verge, "Motorola’s 5G Moto Mod speed test was massively misleading," 5 Dec. 2018 Mandela's plea is no closer to reality, and other elements of his legacy are under threat. Christopher Torchia, Fox News, "Mandela: A life of soaring symbolism, now harnessed by UN," 24 Sep. 2018 These unpredictable elements are why, per Outside, race directors require every runner to tote an emergency blanket, a hat, gloves, and a rain shell. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "5 Things to Know About the 106-Mile Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc Race," 4 Sep. 2018 Palmer explained that Justin has Scorpio rising, meaning there's a secretive element to him. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Does Justin Bieber’s Birth Chart Prove He and Selena Gomez Were Doomed From the Start?," 10 Apr. 2019 Play off the stark lines of the dress with accessories that are bold in their restraint, like gladiator sandals, slim jewelry and a fuss-free bag devoid of excess design elements. Nicola Fumo, Harper's BAZAAR, "5 Chic Looks You Can Wear to Work and on the Weekend," 18 Mar. 2019 By investing in a door that's made of quality materials and installed professionally and tightly, homeowners decrease the likelihood of these natural elements coming into their home. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need to Know About Buying Exterior Doors," 19 Feb. 2019 The best outfits have a balance of feminine and masculine elements. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, "5 Chic Outfits that Take the Stress Out of Valentine's Day Dressing," 30 Jan. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about element

Dictionary Entries near element

eleidin

elem

eleme figs

element

elemental

elementalism

elementary

Statistics for element

Last Updated

16 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for element

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for element

element

noun

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

element

noun
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

element

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

element

noun
el·​e·​ment

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on element

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for element

Spanish Central: Translation of element

Nglish: Translation of element for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of element for Arabic Speakers

Comments on element

What made you want to look up element? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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