element

noun

el·​e·​ment ˈe-lə-mənt How to pronounce element (audio)
1
a
: 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
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 Their music seamlessly blended rock with Mexican folklore and a myriad of synthy elements, creating a sonic tapestry that resonated deeply with audiences and defied conventional labels. Holly Alvarado, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 June 2024 Wix has been a leader in no-code design, which allows people without coding knowledge to create websites and apps by dragging and dropping design elements and providing easy integrations for functions like payments. Rachel Ventresca, Fortune, 6 June 2024 Outdoors, with a thrust stage, Little Island’s theater is subject to the elements and open to onlookers, who can watch performances, for free, from the winding paths of the park. Joshua Barone, New York Times, 5 June 2024 Disagreeing with each other about what’s true and false is an important element of our democracy. Tiffany Donnelly, The Mercury News, 5 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for element 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'element.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near element

Cite this Entry

“Element.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/element. Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

element

noun
el·​e·​ment ˈel-ə-mənt How to pronounce element (audio)
1
a
: one of the four substances air, water, fire, or earth formerly believed to make up the physical universe
b
plural : forces of nature
especially : stormy or cold weather
c
: the state or place natural or suited to a person or thing
at school she was in her element
2
: one of the parts of which something is made up: as
a
plural : the simplest principles of a subject of study
b
: one of the basic individual things that belong to a mathematical set or class

called also member

c
: any of more than 100 fundamental substances that consist of atoms of only one kind and that cannot be separated by ordinary chemical means into simpler substances
d
: a distinct part of a device used in the composing of print matter
3
plural : the bread and wine used in the sacrament of Communion
element table

Medical Definition

element

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

Legal Definition

element

noun
el·​e·​ment
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on element

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