From Middle English elbowe, from Old English elboga, elnboga (“elbow”), from Proto-Germanic *alinabugô (“elbow”), equivalent to ell + bow. Cognate with Scots elbuck (“elbow”), Saterland Frisian Älbooge (“elbow”), Dutch elleboog (“elbow”), Low German Ellebage (“elbow”), German Ellbogen, Ellenbogen (“elbow”), Danish albue (“elbow”), Icelandic olbogi, olnbogi (“elbow”).
elbow (plural elbows)
- (anatomy) The joint between the upper arm and the forearm.
- 1907, Robert W. Chambers, chapter VIII, in The Younger Set:
- Elbows almost touching they leaned at ease, idly reading the almost obliterated lines engraved there. ¶ "I never understood it," she observed, lightly scornful. "What occult meaning has a sun-dial for the spooney? I'm sure I don't want to read riddles in a strange gentleman's optics."
- (by extension) Any turn or bend like that of the elbow, in a wall, building, coastline, etc.; an angular or jointed part of any structure, such as the raised arm of a chair or sofa, or a short pipe fitting, turning at an angle or bent.
- the sides of windows, where the jamb makes an elbow with the window back
- (US, dated, early 20th-century slang) A detective.
- 1924, Dashiell Hammett, Zigzags of Treachery:
- "An elbow, huh?" putting all the contempt he could in his voice; and somehow any synonym for detective seems able to hold a lot of contempt.
- (basketball) Part of a basketball court located at the intersection of the free-throw line and the free-throw lane.
- A hit with the elbow.
- at the elbow
- bend one's elbow
- bump elbows
- crook one's elbow
- elbow bone
- elbow bump
- elbow chair
- elbow grease
- elbow juice
- elbow macaroni
- elbow relation
- elbow room
- elbow scissors
- get the elbow
- give the elbow
- golfer's elbow
- know one's ass from one's elbow
- miner's elbow
- more power to your elbow
- out at elbow
- rub elbows
- shake one's elbow
- street elbow
- tennis elbow
- (transitive) To push with the elbow or elbows; to forge ahead using the elbows to assist.
- He elbowed his way through the crowd.
- 2012, Andrew Martin, Underground Overground: A passenger's history of the Tube, Profile Books, →ISBN, page 277:
- On the DLR, or on the driverless Line 14 on the Paris Metro, I always try to sit at the front. (It's usually just a matter of elbowing aside some ten-year-old boys; I can then get on with pretending to drive the train.)
- (transitive, by extension) To nudge, jostle or push.
- 1993, Dana Stabenow, A Fatal Thaw, →ISBN, page 105:
- Suddenly and with all her heart Kate longed to be home, back at the homestead, to participate in the rambunctious toss and jostle as breakup elbowed its way into the Park.
- Alternative form of