\ˈelf \
plural elves\ ˈelvz \

Definition of elf 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a small often mischievous fairy

2 : a small lively creature also : a usually lively mischievous or malicious person

Definition of ELF (Entry 2 of 2)

extremely low frequency

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Other Words from elf


elfish \ ˈel-​fish \ adjective
elfishly adverb

Examples of elf in a Sentence


elves are often portrayed as rather mischievous

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The plight of the elves, for example, is filtered through Reyla, a gifted young woman who belongs to a coven of assassins. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "The Dragon Prince is influenced by Avatar: The Last Airbender in the best ways," 7 Sep. 2018 In its early scenes, the movie seems to want — in the manner of the similarly soul-draining Bright — to use different species (elves, orcs, fairies, puppets) and their relationships with humankind to say something about race and policing. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "The Happytime Murders turns raunchy puppet comedy into inexplicably boring dreck," 23 Aug. 2018 Drive through the campground in the comfort of your car and view a mile of lights and holiday displays featuring elves, reindeer, and Santa. Elaine Rewolinski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Christmas 2017: Holiday tree lightings and displays in the Milwaukee area," 13 Nov. 2017 Ronan was in talks with LOTR franchise director Peter Jackson, but ultimately had to turn down a role as an elf due to scheduling conflicts. Vogue, "5 Things You Didn’t Know About Saoirse Ronan," 11 July 2018 Keebler elves, get your tiny fingers out of my ice cream. 19. Kara Baskin, BostonGlobe.com, "The best flavors of ice cream at Toscanini’s," 29 May 2018 Here children can visit Santa and get a photo taken with the jolly elf himself. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Weekend guide: Snow day at Discovery World, Charlie Brown grandparents brunch and more," 12 Dec. 2017 The skydive was set up by the owner of the elf as a stunt for his 9-year-old daughter. Josh Magness, sacbee, "She went parasailing and crashed next to an alligator. 'She's very lucky to be alive'," 29 June 2018 Groening has been joined by longtime Simpsons showrunner Josh Weinstein and a remarkable number of Futurama animators and voice actors to build a new elves-and-castles-and-dragons cartoon series. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Matt Groening’s first fantasy-cartoon series finally has release date, screens," 23 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of elf


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

History and Etymology for elf


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

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Dictionary Entries near elf

eleventh hour




El Faiyûm

elf arrow

El Fasher

Statistics for elf

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for elf

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

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More Definitions for elf



English Language Learners Definition of elf

: a small creature in stories usually with pointed ears and magical powers


\ˈelf \
plural elves\ ˈelvz \

Kids Definition of elf

: an often mischievous fairy

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Comments on elf

What made you want to look up elf? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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