Definition of elephant
1a : a thickset, usually extremely large, nearly hairless, herbivorous mammal (family Elephantidae, the elephant family) that has a snout elongated into a muscular trunk and two incisors in the upper jaw developed especially in the male into long ivory tusks: (1) : a tall, large-eared mammal (Loxodonta africana) of tropical Africa that is sometimes considered to comprise two separate species (L. africana of sub-Saharan savannas and L. cyclotis of central and western rain forests) —called also African elephant (2) : a relatively small-eared mammal (Elephas maximus) of forests of southeastern Asia —called also Asian elephant, Indian elephantb : any of various extinct relatives of the elephant — see mammoth, mastodon
2 : one that is uncommonly large or hard to manage
Examples of elephant in a Sentence
by any standard, the new shopping mall will be an elephant and one that is certain to alter the retail landscape
Recent Examples of elephant from the Web
As Jacey Fortin reports for the New York Times, Jude, now 10, had accidentally stumbled upon the fossilized skull of a 1.2 million-year-old stegomastodon, an extinct proboscidean that belongs to the same family as elephants, mammoths and mastodons.
For many in the community, the elephant in the room is whether the university will remain committed to San Diego’s urban core.
Elephant in the room: Bumble's bottle is far prettier.
All of which makes their society far more complex than your elephants, with their feats of memory and emotional snivelling.
DeBolt recently drove through Stanley and found an array of meadow flowers in bloom, including wyethia (aka mule’s ears), elephant heads, penstemon, cinquefoil, buckwheat and scarlet gilia.
An Asian elephant skeleton is laid out flat on a pedestal.
And then there was the arrest of the Moranos in 2016 for the illegal sale of ivory — 126 items, including intricate carvings and uncarved elephant tusks.
The tables had African lanterns, wooden elephants, and floral arrangements of roses and poppies.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elephant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of elephant
Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French olifant, elefant, from L. elephantus, from Greek elephant-, elephas
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
Financial Definition of ELEPHANT
What It Is
Elephants are large institutions that make big trades.
How It Works
CalPERS (the California Public Employees' Retirement System) is the nation's largest pension fund. More than 1.6 million people there are employees of public institutions such as schools and local governments. To ensure that the fund has enough money to make pension payments when employees retire, it invests that money in stocks, bonds, venture capital, real estate and a variety of other assets. In 2012, CalPERS had about $234 billion invested and another $3 billion in cash.
Accordingly, it can make some very large trades and has a lot of influence in the market. CalPERS can also be a source of capital for growing companies: It invested $34.2 billion in private equity in 2012.
Why It Matters
When elephants make trades, they are often large trades that can spike (or tank) the price of a stock or other security quickly. Elephants aren't just big influencers of the markets; they're big "gets" for brokerage firms, advisory firms, or any other financial institution that retains them as customers. After all, fees are often a percentage of trade size or asset size, and thus it's usually a big deal to "bag an elephant."
ELEPHANT Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of elephant for English Language Learners
: a very large gray animal that has a long, flexible nose and two long tusks
ELEPHANT Defined for Kids
Definition of elephant for Students
: a huge typically gray mammal of Africa or Asia with the nose drawn out into a long trunk and two large curved tusks
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up elephant? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).