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From Latin elephantīnus.[1]


  • IPA(key): /ɛl.əˈfæn.tin/, /ɛl.əˈfæn.taɪn/, /ˈɛl.ə.fən.tin/, /ˈɛl.ə.fən.taɪn/
  • (file)


elephantine (comparative more elephantine, superlative most elephantine)

  1. Of, pertaining to, or characteristic of elephants.
    • 1979, Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, →ISBN, page 132:
      The scene around them was currently plunged into gloom. Dark mists swirled round them and elephantine shapes lurked indistinctly in the shadows.
    • 1989, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, translated by H. T. Willetts, August 1914, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, →ISBN, page 179:
      This last summer Hanecki had captured Lenin’s imagination with his plans to found a trading company of his own in Europe, or take a partnership in some existing firm and make guaranteed monthly remittances to the Party out of his profits. This was not a Russian pipe dream: every move had been worked out with impressive precision. Kuba hadn’t thought of it himself, it was the brainchild of the elephantine genius Parvus, who had been writing to him from Constantinople. Parvus, once as poor as any other Social Democrat, had gone to Turkey to organize strikes, and now wrote frankly that he had all the money he needed (if rumor was right, he was fabulously wealthy) and that the time had come for the Party too to get rich.
  2. Very large.
    • 1960, John Updike, 'Rabbit, Run', page 35:
      He comes into Brewer from the south, seeing it in the smoky shadow before dawn as a gradual multiplication of houses among the trees beside the road and then as a treeless waste of industry, shoe factories and bottling plants and company parking lots and knitting mills converted to electronics parts and elephantine gas tanks lifting above trash-filled swampland yet lower than the blue edge of the mountain from whose crest Brewer was a warm carpet woven around a single shade of brick.
    • 1964 July, “The mythology of monorails”, in Modern Railways, page 1:
      Ugly, clumsy and far from silent, with elephantine point mechanisms at the car sheds, it nevertheless works and has been brought up to date electrically for further public service.
    • 2020 May 6, Prof. Andrew McNaughton, “Time to challenge some sacred philosophies of recent years”, in Rail, pages 32, 34:
      At one level, that may mean tailoring services to demand and introducing vehicles that are genuinely lighter in weight. At another, calculating the energy and emissions of track renewal - whether steel rail, concrete sleepers or mining ballast, crushing, shipping using dirty fuel, and re-handling it before finally placing and maintaining with diesel equipment. And then shortening its life though the wear and tear of tamping to counter the effect of elephantine passenger vehicles.


Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2024) “elephantine”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.




  1. vocative masculine singular of elephantinus