elephant

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English elefant, elefaunt, from Old French elefant, elefan, olifant, re-latinized in Middle French as elephant, from Latin elephantus, from Ancient Greek ἐλέφᾱς (eléphās) (gen. ἐλέφαντος (eléphantos)). Believed to be derived from an Afro-Asiatic form such as Proto-Berber *eḷu (elephant) (compare Tahaggart Tamahaq êlu, Tamasheq alu) or Egyptian ꜣbw (elephant; ivory). More at ivory. Replaced Middle English olifant (from the aforementioned Old French form, from Vulgar Latin *olifantus), which replaced Old English elpend (elephant).

Pronunciation[edit]

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

Noun[edit]

elephant (countable and uncountable, plural elephants)

  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 × 22 inches.
  4. (Britain, 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. (uncountable, 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]