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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for element

Synonyms

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

Antonyms

whole

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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

The element of surprise is a highlight of this adventure. Amy Tara Koch, Vogue, "The Slopes Less Taken: Going on a Ski Safari in the Dolomites," 7 Mar. 2019 Since January, this country has experienced two media bonfires—over Covington Catholic’s high school students and now Jussie Smollett—whose common element is the reflexive judgment that much of American society is irredeemably bigoted. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Smollett Hoaxers," 21 Feb. 2019 Kruszka notes that the most important elements of the restyled dressing rooms were sourcing the right size and style of furniture, and maximizing the space in order to comfortably fit a bride (in a wedding dress!), and three guests. Maya Mcdowell, House Beautiful, "Wayfair Registry Teamed up with Kleinfeld Bridal to Revamp Two of the VIP Dressing Rooms," 19 Feb. 2019 The man who once pulled off a two-handed dunk while jumping over the front of a car is a bit less of an athletic sensation in Detroit, but the blue-collar elements of his game are still plenty effective. Noah Trister, The Seattle Times, "Griffin enjoying resurgence a year after trade to Pistons," 19 Feb. 2019 The look was equal parts fiery and elegant, with ruffles cascading down the front and a cape trailing in the back, but the see-through element was a wink to Miley's signature risqué style. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Miley Cyrus Stuns in a Sheer Valentino Gown on the Red Carpet Without Liam Hemsworth," 12 Feb. 2019 The resulting spectrum shows which elements are present in the sample. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Study brings us one step closer to solving 1994 thallium poisoning case," 25 Dec. 2018 The group element can be daunting at first, but the camaraderie of the collective experience is the winning factor of a stay here. Daisy Finer, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Golden Door Is the World's Most Iconic Spa," 21 Dec. 2018 While some elements of Prince Harry’s life as royalty are of course incredible, the lack of privacy would be enough to drive any young person crazy—especially while trying to keep a normal social life through college. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Prince Harry Used This Secret Fake Name on Social Media in College," 27 July 2018

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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Learn More about element

Dictionary Entries near element

eleidin

elem

eleme figs

element

elemental

elementalism

elementary

Statistics for element

Last Updated

21 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for element

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

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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

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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

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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

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