elephant

noun, often attributive
el·​e·​phant | \ ˈe-lə-fənt How to pronounce elephant (audio) \
plural elephants also elephant

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 elephant

b : any of various extinct relatives of the elephant — see mammoth, mastodon
2 : one that is uncommonly large or hard to manage

Illustration of elephant

Illustration of elephant

elephant: 1 African, 2 Asian

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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 on the Web

In the second half of the 19th century, elephants were the main attraction of the many traveling circuses that toured the United States and Canada. Amy Crawford, BostonGlobe.com, "Why is history always about humans?," 13 July 2018 So that brings us to the elephant that is not in the room – the U.S., which did not qualify. Dom Amore, courant.com, "Dom Amore: UConn's Ray Reid Can Tell You All About Juan Carlos Osorio, World Cup Mastermind," 25 June 2018 Conservationists say elephants, which are intelligent with strong family bonds, were often hostile and aggressive to people for years after the civil war, a legacy of the trauma of ivory trafficking. Christopher Torchia, The Christian Science Monitor, "Underdogs no more: African wild dogs make comeback in Mozambique," 22 June 2018 Conservationist say elephants, which are intelligent with strong family bonds, were often hostile and aggressive to people for years after the civil war, a legacy of the trauma of ivory trafficking. Washington Post, "African wild dogs make comeback at Mozambican wildlife park," 22 June 2018 Painted giraffes, elephants, coolers and birdhouses are just some of the examples of the artwork to be found in the downtown business district in recent summers. Hank Beckman, chicagotribune.com, "Love seats in downtown La Grange part of summer arts program," 10 June 2018 The forest is now home to elephants, rhinos, tigers, and more, and Payeng must protect it from a new threat—the humans who want to use it for economic gain. National Geographic, "5 Times People Used Trees to Change the World," 21 Apr. 2018 Mammoths and mastodons, for example, likely had a two-year gestation period, akin to modern elephants, and would have typically produced just one offspring at a time. Jason G. Goldman, Scientific American, "In 200 Years Cows May Be the Biggest Land Mammals on the Planet," 20 Apr. 2018 Here, Dumbo is befriended by two young children, whose father has been hired by the circus to care for the baby elephant. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "New trailer for Disney’s live-action Dumbo captures magic of original," 15 Nov. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of elephant

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for elephant

Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French olifant, elefant, from L. elephantus, from Greek elephant-, elephas

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Statistics for elephant

Last Updated

23 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for elephant

The first known use of elephant was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for elephant

elephant

noun

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."

Source: Investing Answers

elephant

noun

English Language Learners Definition of elephant

: a very large gray animal that has a long, flexible nose and two long tusks

elephant

noun
el·​e·​phant | \ ˈe-lə-fənt How to pronounce elephant (audio) \

Kids Definition of elephant

: a huge typically gray mammal of Africa or Asia with the nose drawn out into a long trunk and two large curved tusks

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Comments on elephant

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