elephant

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See also: éléphant and êléphant

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Middle English elefant, elefaunt, from Old French elefant, elefan, olifant, re-latinized in Middle French as elephant, from Latin elephantus, from Ancient Greek ἐλέφας (eléphas) (gen. ἐλέφαντος (eléphantos)). Believed to be derived from an Afro-Asiatic form such as Proto-Berber *eḷu (elephant) (compare Tamahaq (Tahaggart) êlu, (Ghat) alu) or Egyptian 𓍋𓃀𓅱𓌟 (ȝbw) (ābu) ‘elephant; ivory’. More at ivory. Replaced Middle English olifant, which replaced Old English elpend, olfend.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈɛləfənt/, /ˈɛlɪfənt/
  • (file)

Noun[edit]

elephant (plural elephants)

An African bush elephant.
  1. A mammal of the order Proboscidea, having a trunk, and two large ivory tusks jutting from the upper jaw.
  2. (figuratively) Anything huge and ponderous.
  3. (paper, printing) A printing-paper size measuring 30 inches x 22 inches.
  4. (UK, childish) used when counting to add length.
    Let's play hide and seek. I'll count. One elephant, two elephant, three elephant...
  5. (obsolete) ivory
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Dryden to this entry?)

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Middle French[edit]

Noun[edit]

elephant m (plural elephans)

  1. elephant (animal)

Descendants[edit]