\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

Its free newsletter, Playbook, grows out of that insider perspective, in Legum's opinion, treating politics like a spectator sport for elites rather than something that affects people’s lives. Emily Dreyfuss, WIRED, "Judd Legum Wants to Fix News With a Newsletter," 12 July 2018 Through gentrification and the violence of displacement, anti-Blackness terraforms Black communities into white ones, and working-class communities into spaces for wealthy elites. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "TEACHING FOR BLACK LIVES," 10 July 2018 The Opening has become the validating factor among high school football’s elite. Chris Hays, OrlandoSentinel.com, "It's all business for Wekiva CB, FSU commit Renardo Malcom Green," 30 June 2018 For some Pyongyang elites, Singapore—the city that hosted the U.S.-North Korea summit—is helping to provide an answer. Jonathan Cheng, WSJ, "Capitalism for Dictators 101: North Koreans Study Business Basics," 19 June 2018 The narrative was set in 1989 and, for elites, it cannot be relinquished now. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Is the World Done With Liberal Democracy?," 1 June 2018 The event is both a groovy arts mixer and a highly secretive gathering for establishment elites; every Republican president since Coolidge has reportedly shown up, alongside your Kissingers and Rockefellers and corporate executives. Chris Colin, Outside Online, "Drawing a Line in the Sand Over River Rights," 30 May 2018 Another delegate came to buy Danish beer for the elites as many North Koreans starved. New York Times, "Book Explores Kim Jong-un’s Feelings About His Mother, and Other Family Tales," 23 May 2018 The ancient Sumerian game board Not everything in ancient Sumer was dawn-to-dusk work for ordinary people creating wealth for the urban elites. Stephan Salisbury, Philly.com, "Penn Museum's Middle East Galleries reopen: Behold, the queen's beer straw," 19 Apr. 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

15 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for elite

The first known use of elite was in 1808

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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