\ā-ˈlēt, i-, ē-\

Definition of elite 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a  singular or plural in construction : the choice part : cream the elite of the entertainment world

b  singular or plural in construction : the best of a class superachievers who dominate the computer elite— Marilyn Chase

c  singular or plural in construction : the socially superior part of society how the French-speaking elite … was changingEconomist

d : a group of persons who by virtue of position or education exercise much power or influence members of the ruling elite

e : a member of such an elite usually used in plural the elites …, pursuing their studies in Europe— Robert Wernick

2 : a typewriter type providing 12 characters to the linear inch



Definition of elite (Entry 2 of 3)

: of, relating to, serving, or being part of an elite seeking to attain elite status an elite group an elite institution/school often : superior in quality, rank, skill, etc. an elite performer an elite athlete an athlete with elite skills The elite chess players of today are of no school. They hail from all over the world … — Garry Kasparov

élite, élitism

Definition of élite (Entry 3 of 3)

chiefly British spellings of , elitism

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Examples of elite in a Sentence


the winners of this science award represent the elite of our high schools the country's elite owned or controlled most of the wealth

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

That’s because automatic elite status in hotel loyalty programs is an increasingly common feature on credit cards associated with these programs. Claire Tsosie, The Seattle Times, "Snag these hotel loyalty perks, even if you’re disloyal," 20 Nov. 2018 Trump was basically doing a barnstorming tour that was anti-elite. Eric Johnson, Recode, "The media is responsible for President Trump and it still hasn’t learned from 2016, says Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi," 18 Oct. 2018 The grassroots will lead us back to power — not party elites. Andrew O'reilly, Fox News, "New York Democrats slammed for mailer implying Cynthia Nixon is anti-Semitic," 9 Sep. 2018 People say our underground tunnels lead to secret meeting facilities for the world’s elite. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Denver airport construction signs poke fun at conspiracy rumors," 7 Sep. 2018 Our results suggest that the world looked different to U.S. elites after the rivalry with the Soviet Union ended. Jonathan M. Dicicco, Washington Post, "Fifty years ago, American troops abandoned Khe Sanh. Here’s how the U.S. got over ‘Vietnam syndrome.’," 5 July 2018 LeBron needs at least one elite teammate to make the Warriors pay attention. Greg Cote, miamiherald, "LeBron is accepting a huge challenge by joining Lakers. That's good for him — and NBA," 2 July 2018 The brother of Rob Ford, Toronto’s late mayor, who was most famous for being caught on video smoking crack, the premier-designate rails against Canada’s elites and dislikes the mainstream media. The Economist, "Doug Ford disrupts Canada’s climate policy," 28 June 2018 That’s what separates the elites from the capable and the unproven. Omar Kelly, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Where does Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill rank among 2018 starting QBs? Elite? capable? Or unproven?," 26 June 2018

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


1823, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1808, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for elite


French élite, from Old French eslite, from feminine of eslit, past participle of eslire to choose, from Latin eligere

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Dictionary Entries near elite






elite seed


Statistics for elite

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for elite

The first known use of elite was in 1808

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More from Merriam-Webster on elite

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with elite

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for elite

Spanish Central: Translation of elite

Nglish: Translation of elite for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of elite for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about elite

Comments on elite

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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