Trend Watch


Lookups increased 2600% after Cruz used the word to announce his running mate

With his surprising announcement of a running mate during the primary season, without being his party’s nominee, Ted Cruz said of Carly Fiorina: “Every one of us remembers the grace, the class, the élan, with which Carly responded."

Lookups for élan jumped up 2600% at

Élan, pronounced \ay-LAHN\, means “vigorous spirit or enthusiasm,” and comes from the French word that means “momentum” or “rush” or “burst” (as in “a burst of anger”).

It comes from the Middle French verb eslancer, meaning “to rush,” formed from lancer, meaning “to throw.” In French, élan originally meant “the progressive movement made in preparation of a jump or exercise” before developing the figurative meaning of “spirit” or “enthusiasm” that came to English.

The word elance was used in English to mean “to hurl” a dart or lance, but it fell out of use in the 1800s. The English version of the root verb, lance, still means “to throw forward.”

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