1 of 2


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


2 of 2


extremely low frequency

Examples of elf in a Sentence

Noun elves are often portrayed as rather mischievous
Recent Examples on the Web
In kindergarten the adults would tell her that the reason for the bog’s red-colored water was that the elves would wash their clothes in it. Laird Borrelli-Persson, Vogue, 5 Feb. 2024 While Santa and his elves are back at the North Pole—already working on next year’s gifts—Amazon is full to the brim with end-of-the-year leftovers for savings up to 64% off. Stephanie Osmanski, Better Homes & Gardens, 26 Dec. 2023 Public Safety officers at the Medical University of South Carolina reportedly responded to the school's parking garage just after midnight to find a jolly old elf sitting on a golf cart. Christina Coulter, Fox News, 25 Dec. 2023 The film walks a fine line between fact and fiction by presenting the truth of the program without ever dispelling the fantasy of Santa Claus and his elves, making this a safe watch for anyone whose children have yet to have the fantasy ruined. Andrew Walsh, EW.com, 12 Dec. 2023 Which raises the question: How did Drunk Elephant end up on Christmas lists for kids who believe Santa’s elves are scooping globs of Protini Polypeptide Cream into neon blue jars? Ariana Yaptangco, Glamour, 10 Jan. 2024 But real-life Santas shouldn’t worry about shaving off their beards just yet, said Mitch Allen, founder and head elf at Hire Santa, which provides Santa Claus entertainers to malls and events. Isabelle Bousquette, WSJ, 21 Dec. 2023 While there, they were decked out in matching green-and-yellow elf pajamas, complete with coordinating green hats. Sabrina Weiss, Peoplemag, 20 Dec. 2023 Friday is the Night of 1,000 Santas, an invitation to wear a Santa suit, Mrs. Claus outfit or elf get-up while sipping hot spiked cider or cocoa and grooving to a DJ. Chris Kelly, Washington Post, 14 Dec. 2023 See More

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

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 23 Feb. 2024.

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
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!