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 Afroasiatic 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. (in particular) Any member of the family Elephantidae not also of the genus Mammuthus.
  3. (figuratively) Anything huge and ponderous.
  4. (paper, printing) Synonym of elephant paper
  5. (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...
  6. (uncountable, obsolete) Ivory.
    • 1697, “(please specify the book number)”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], OCLC 403869432:
      He sent rich gifts of elephant and gold.

Synonyms[edit]

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Derived terms[edit]

Descendants[edit]

  • Welsh: eliffant
  • Hawaiian: ʻelepani
  • Maori: arewhana

Related terms[edit]

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Middle French[edit]

Noun[edit]

elephant m (plural elephans)

  1. elephant (animal)

Descendants[edit]