\ 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

Bullock, a cowboy-boot-wearing executive from a rural state won by President Donald Trump, may seem like an unusual benefactor of campaign cash from members of the Hollywood elite often associated with far-left causes. Washington Post, "Jane Fonda to give White House hopeful Steve Bullock a boost," 19 June 2019 The rest of the college baseball elite saw that first-hand. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Top pick Adley Rutschman could transform Orioles with his talent, but might do more with 'Mudita'," 8 June 2019 McKinsey’s exile from Mongolia was a grave enough matter that the firm’s leaders attempted high-level diplomacy at the ultimate conclave of the elite: the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Ian Macdougall, Propublica, ProPublica, "The Country That Exiled McKinsey," 14 May 2019 Stanford University has expelled a student in the fallout from Operation Varsity Blues, the college admissions scandal that swept up Silicon Valley, the world of elite higher education, and Hollywood last month. Vogue, "2 Student “Athletes” Have Now Been Expelled in the College Admissions Scandal Fallout," 8 Apr. 2019 After Trump’s election and the ascendancy of his isolationist rhetoric, Xi went to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland — the yearly meeting of the global elite — to proclaim that China would defend increased globalization. Alex Ward, Vox, "Trump’s China strategy is the most radical in decades — and it’s failing," 18 Sep. 2018 Enter the jade comb, the newest beauty-meets-self-care product to hit the #shelfies of the beauty elite, and our answer to the DIY scalp massage. Zoe Weiner, Allure, "Jade and Rose Quartz Combs Are The Latest Trend in Hair Care," 27 July 2018 In her 89 years, Herring has accomplished more than just joining the ranks of Bayou City's most elite. Daniela Sternitzky-di Napoli, Houston Chronicle, "Houston socialite, philanthropist Joanne Herring through the years," 3 July 2018 Karadima had been a charismatic preacher with connections to some of Chile’s elite. Frances D’emilio, BostonGlobe.com, "2 more Chilean bishops are out as pope cleans house," 28 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


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

25 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for elite

The first known use of elite was in 1738

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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).


to take the place or position of

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