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plural elves ˈelvz How to pronounce elf (audio)
: a small often mischievous fairy
: a small lively creature
also : a usually lively mischievous or malicious person
elfish adjective
elfishly adverb


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extremely low frequency

Examples of elf in a Sentence

Noun elves are often portrayed as rather mischievous
Recent Examples on the Web
Eddie Murphy, Tracee Ellis Ross and their kids battle a naughty elf, played by Jillian Bell, in the official trailer for Candy Cane Lane. Christy Piña, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Nov. 2023 Carey then danced in Kimmel’s bedroom to the holiday classic while throwing fake snow alongside dancers dressed as elves and a gingerbread man. Clare Fisher, Peoplemag, 3 Nov. 2023 Carey and her Christmas minions — including accomplices dressed as elves and Santa — snuck into Kimmel’s house in the middle of the night and gently roused the late night host. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 3 Nov. 2023 In addition to this interactive display, guests can expect festive decorations, story time with Santa's elves, gingerbread decorating classes, carolers, seasonal snacks, and more. Elizabeth Rhodes, Travel + Leisure, 3 Nov. 2023 During a dance sequence, there’s a close-up of elves wiggling their bottoms. Common Sense Media, Washington Post, 3 Nov. 2023 And yet there was enormous loyalty and good will that flowed to the editors, Silvers and Barbara Epstein, from many of their changing cast of overworked elves. Wyatt Mason, New York Times, 30 Oct. 2023 Spirited ladies from the local Jazzercise class pass by disguised as elves and performing a choreographed routine. Kaitlyn Yarborough, Southern Living, 4 Oct. 2023 Replace Santa with a gnome, elf, snowman, or reindeer. Christianna Silva, Better Homes & Gardens, 26 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'elf.' 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, from Old English ælf; akin to Old Norse alfr elf & perhaps to Latin albus white — more at alb

First Known Use


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near elf

Cite this Entry

“Elf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elf. Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


plural elves ˈelvz How to pronounce elf (audio)
: a small and often mischievous fairy
elfish adjective
elfishly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on elf

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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