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plural elves ˈelvz How to pronounce elf (audio)
: a small often mischievous fairy
: a small lively creature
also : a usually lively mischievous or malicious person
elfish adjective
elfishly adverb


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extremely low frequency

Example Sentences

Noun elves are often portrayed as rather mischievous
Recent Examples on the Web
Don your Santa suit or kit yourself out as an elf, reindeer or Mrs. Claus and join in this ages 21-up bar crawl through the city. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, 19 Nov. 2022 Live alum Ferrell, 55, as a human who was accidentally raised as an elf at the North Pole. Eric Andersson, Peoplemag, 17 Nov. 2022 Another article also noted Patty LaFountaine, who used to work as an elf at the Silver Grille and played one of Santa’s grumpy elves in the movie. Mike Rose, cleveland, 12 Nov. 2022 First and foremost: Kids are not allowed to touch the elf. Ysolt Usigan, Woman's Day, 4 Nov. 2022 Writer Romeo Muller expanded upon the story of Rudolph to introduce Hermey, the elf who yearns to be a dentist, and the Island of Misfit Toys. Emily Langer, Washington Post, 26 Oct. 2022 Featuring a red blend bottle and a white blend, as well as chocolate truffles, and packaged in a felt fabric elf pants tote, this is one gift that will surely spread holiday cheer. Ni'kesia Pannell, Woman's Day, 25 Oct. 2022 Once his casting was eventually announced, racist direct messages quickly overwhelmed his social media profiles, often saying something to the effect that an Afro-Latino man had no business playing an elf in J.R.R. Tolkien’s sandbox. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Oct. 2022 Underground, in Moria, Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur) and his fabulous wife, Disa (Sophia Nomvete), deftly banter and tease each other as well as the half-elf Elrond (Robert Aramayo), who has come to them for aid. Los Angeles Times, 19 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elf.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



Middle English, from Old English ælf; akin to Old Norse alfr elf & perhaps to Latin albus white — more at alb

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of elf was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near elf

Cite this Entry

“Elf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elf. Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

plural elves ˈelvz How to pronounce elf (audio)
: a small and often mischievous fairy
elfish adjective
elfishly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on elf

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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