elf·in | \ ˈel-fən \

Definition of elfin 

1a : of, relating to, or produced by an elf

b : resembling an elf especially in its tiny size elfin portions

2 : having an otherworldly or magical quality or charm

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Examples of elfin in a Sentence

They were delighted with the child's elfin charm. the heroine in the story has an elfin beauty that men find irresistible

Recent Examples on the Web

In December 2013, a few weeks before their elfin Christmas visits, Mr. Rechnitz and Mr. Reichberg chartered another private jet and took Chief Banks and Mr. Seabrook on a trip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Alan Feuer, New York Times, "Tracking Graft, From the Bootlegger to the Mayor," 27 Apr. 2018 At 41, Heti herself — fair and faintly elfin, with overgrown bangs — could pass for a grad student. Molly Fischer, The Cut, "Should Sheila Heti Have a Baby?," 1 May 2018 With his short, curly hair and elfin demeanor, Joshua Kiszka defies the stereotype of the ultra-macho hard-rock singer. Randy Lewis, latimes.com, "Elton John's 26th Oscars viewing party raises $5.9 million for his AIDS Foundation," 6 Mar. 2018 An elfin 21-year-old model with dreadlocks named Thomas Castro was buying a ring, encrusted with diamonds and in the shape of two panthers, for his mother. Greg Howard, New York Times, "Custom Jewelry With a Hip-Hop Following," 20 Sep. 2017 This year, for the first time in more than 40 years, the elfin man didn’t deliver gifts to the needy children along the hollows and pig paths in Harlan County, a place that would have been bereft of hope around Christmas for years if not for him. Joseph Gerth, The Courier-Journal, "He brought joy to kids for decades as Mountain Santa. Now he’s frail and facing cancer," 21 Dec. 2017 Most of the Little Sisters of the Sick Poor, like the exigent Sister Lucy and the loving, almost elfin Sister Jeanne, spend their days outside the convent in the service, as their name suggests, of the indigent and ailing. Mary Gordon, New York Times, "In Alice McDermott’s Novel, A Cloistered Life Blows Open," 2 Oct. 2017 Deletion of those genes in people causes Williams syndrome, which is characterized by elfin facial features, cognitive difficulties, and a tendency to love everyone. Carrie Arnold, National Geographic, "Why Are Dogs So Friendly? Science Finally Has an Answer," 19 July 2017 The habitat work has also benefited other rare species such as the spotted and wood turtles and the frosted elfin butterfly, said Wendi Weber, northeast director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Washington Post, "NY: Endangered Karner blue butterfly exceeds recovery goals," 20 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elfin.' 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 elfin

1590, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for elfin

irregular from elf

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Statistics for elfin

Last Updated

6 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for elfin

The first known use of elfin was in 1590

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More Definitions for elfin



English Language Learners Definition of elfin

: having to do with elves : looking like an elf


elf·in | \ ˈel-fən \

Kids Definition of elfin

: relating to elves

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More from Merriam-Webster on elfin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for elfin

Spanish Central: Translation of elfin

Nglish: Translation of elfin for Spanish Speakers

Comments on elfin

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


the setting in which something occurs

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