Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A group or class of persons considered to be superior to others because of their intelligence, social standing, or wealth.
  • noun A member of such a group.
  • noun The best or most skilled members of a group.
  • noun A size of type on a typewriter, equal to 12 characters per linear inch.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Of high birth or social position; aristocratic or patrician.
  • adjective Representing the choicest or most select of a group.
  • noun A special group or social class of people which have a superior intellectual, social or economic status as, the elite of society.
  • noun Someone who is among the best at certain task.

Etymologies

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

[French élite, from Old French eslite, from feminine past participle of eslire, to choose, from Latin ēligere; see elect.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French elit, eslit ("chosen, elected") past participle of elire, eslire ("to choose, elect"), from Latin eligere ("to choose, elect"); see elect.

Examples

Comments

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  • "We could, following her Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's strenuously folksy debate performance, wonder when elite became a bad thing in America. Navy Seals are elite, and they get lots of training so they can swim underwater and invade a foreign country, but if you’re governing the country that dispatches the Seals, it’s not O.K. to be elite? Can likable still trump knowledgeable at such a vulnerable crossroads for the country?"

    – Maureen Dowd, "Sarah's Pompom Palaver", New York Times, 4 Oct 2008

    October 6, 2008