from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A small, often mischievous creature considered to have magical powers.
  • n. A lively, mischievous child.
  • n. A usually sprightly or mischievous or sometimes spiteful person.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A mythical, supernatural being resembling but seen as distinct from humans.
  • n. A luminous spirit presiding over nature and fertility and dwelling in the world of Álfheim (Elfland). Compare angel, nymph, fairy.
  • n. Any of the magical, humanoid, typically forest-guarding races bearing some similarities to the Norse álfar (through Tolkien's Eldar).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An imaginary supernatural being, commonly a little sprite, much like a fairy; a mythological diminutive spirit, supposed to haunt hills and wild places, and generally represented as delighting in mischievous tricks.
  • n. A very diminutive person; a dwarf.
  • transitive v. To entangle mischievously, as an elf might do.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To entangle intricately, as the hair.
  • n. An imaginary being superstitiously supposed to inhabit unfrequented places, and in various ways to affect mankind; a sprite; a fairy; a goblin.
  • n. A mischievous or wicked person; a knave; a rogue.
  • n. A diminutive person; a dwarf; hence, a pet name for a child, especially one who is very sprightly and graceful.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (folklore) fairies that are somewhat mischievous
  • n. below 3 kilohertz


Middle English, from Old English ælf; see albho- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old English ælf ("incubus, elf"), from Proto-Germanic *albiz. (Wiktionary)



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