\ 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

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 Rides on the Peppermint Express train, refreshments, ornament-making with elves in the workshop, Santa and screening: Elf (starring Will Ferrell, rated PG). Gege Reed, The Courier-Journal, "What to do around Louisville this week: Santa's Safari, 'The Nutcracker' & more," 13 Dec. 2017 In his early essay collections, Sedaris wrote about the homophobic speech therapy he was forced to endure as a child, his experimentation with drugs and his stint working as a Santaland elf at Macy’s. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "Shopping for the Perfect Shirt With Writer David Sedaris," 13 June 2018 Watch the video above to see Florida Supercon fans dress up as their favorite characters, from princesses to superheroes to elves. Mike Stocker, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Video: Florida Supercon fans show off their stunning costumes," 14 July 2018 This book allows us to observe not just the nimble-mouthed elf of his previous work, but a man in his seventh decade expunging his darker secrets and contemplating mortality. Alan Cumming, New York Times, "David Sedaris Has a New Essay Collection. It Changed Alan Cumming’s Whole Worldview.," 25 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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Statistics for elf

Last Updated

4 Sep 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

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