plural elk also elks
plural usually elk
: moose sense 1
used for one of the Old World
: a large gregarious deer (Cervus elaphus) of North America, Europe, Asia, and northwestern Africa with the male having large antlers and many tines and that often form large herds

Note: The North American elk is sometimes considered to constitute a separate species (C. canadensis).

called also red deer, wapiti

: any of various large Asian deer
: soft tanned rugged leather
usually Elk plural Elks [Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks] : a member of a major benevolent and fraternal order

Examples of elk in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Someone shot five elk and left them to rot near Idaho’s Arrowrock Reservoir, and the Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) is asking for the public’s help solving the case. Travis Hall, Field & Stream, 12 Apr. 2024 Drivers in western Colorado know to keep an eye out for deer and the occasional moose or elk that might stray onto the roadway. Aldo Svaldi, The Denver Post, 2 Apr. 2024 There was a bar, plenty of people eating dinner at 4:45 p.m. and an elk head mounted on the wall. Victoria Moorwood, The Enquirer, 8 Mar. 2024 While elk populations across the country are stable, elk hunting success rates on public land in over-the-counter units are low—approximately 10 to 15 percent. Jace Bauserman, Field & Stream, 22 Feb. 2024 In October 2022, thieves stole a trophy-sized elk skull from a hunters backyard in Lander, Wyoming, and last August, a man was fined a whopping $5,000 for illegally collecting shed antlers in Grand Teton National Park. Travis Hall, Field & Stream, 29 Feb. 2024 An elk hunter in Wyoming encountered a strangely aggressive coyote over the weekend while hunting along the Wind River. Dac Collins, Outdoor Life, 31 Jan. 2024 Carpenter has a history of getting on giant Roosevelt elk, and this bull was very special to say the least. Dac Collins, Outdoor Life, 7 Feb. 2024 An avid elk hunter with multiple Roosevelt records to his name, Carpenter, 39, works as an elk guide in the fall and a wildlife biologist in the springtime. Travis Hall, Field & Stream, 7 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'elk.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, probably from Old English eolh; akin to Old High German elaho elk, Greek elaphos deer

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of elk was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near elk

Cite this Entry

“Elk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


plural elk or elks
: moose
used for one of Europe or Asia
: a large deer of North America, Europe, Asia, and northwestern Africa that has large curved antlers with many branches and that lives in herds

called also red deer, wapiti

More from Merriam-Webster on elk

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