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, so that each count takes about one second.
    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]