\ ā-ˈlēt How to pronounce elite (audio) , 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

The high performance sections have a number of elite and world-class athletes entered. oregonlive.com, "Ducks reach for trophy as men’s action concludes today at the NCAA Championships: Oregon track & field rundown," 7 June 2019 None of the authors epxect Western sanctions can cause any faction within the Russian elite to rebel against Putin because his regime is so effectively coup-proofed: The military is effectively controlled by Putin’s people. Leonid Bershidsky, Twin Cities, "Leonid Bershidsky: Russia after Vladimir Putin," 5 June 2019 On Grammy’s weekend in Los Angeles, the city teems with the music industry’s elite and many are in high anticipation of who will go down in history as music’s best of 2018. Leigh Penney, Vogue, "Dior Celebrates Pusha T in Anticipation of His Potential Grammy Win Tonight," 10 Feb. 2019 This is a movement that is linked to power and economic differences – not just people feeling a financial squeeze at the end of the month but also eyeing the growing inequality between the elites and the working class all over France. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Why we can’t stop debating whether Facebook sells data," 14 Dec. 2018 Yes, say the thousands of people across the United States who identify as 'cookiers,' a movement that includes founders, a cookie elite and an annual CookieCon gathering. Alison Roman, The Seattle Times, "‘We are all connected by cookies’: A tribe with a bond stronger than royal icing," 12 Dec. 2018 In Thailand, the plight of the boys brought together, at least temporarily, a country that has long been divided between the urban elite and the rural poor. New York Times, "In Daring Underwater Cave Rescue, 4 of 13 Thai Are Freed," 8 July 2018 The decline of political drinking has snapped yet another link between the political elite and the people that they are supposed to serve. The Economist, "Last orders for political drinking," 31 May 2018 The New York men’s store, for example, features a pop-in by edgy designer Comme des Garçons, and previous installations have included Allbirds, the eco-friendly shoe favored by Silicon Valley elites, and Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Why Nordstrom Is Betting on High-Touch Tech," 25 May 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


1738, 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

11 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for elite

The first known use of elite was in 1738

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More Definitions for elite



English Language Learners Definition of elite

: the people who have the most wealth and status in a society : the most successful or powerful group of people
US : a person who is a member of an elite : a successful and powerful person

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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).


behavior toward others

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