Definition of element in English:

element

Line breaks: elem|ent
Pronunciation: /ˈɛlɪm(ə)nt
 
/

noun

1An essential or characteristic part of something abstract: the death had all the elements of a great tabloid story there are four elements to the proposal
More example sentences
  • All the elements of a good dark comedy are here: a murder, a dysfunctional family, someone in a clown suit and so on - but they should be tweaked further.
  • There are all the elements of dance and theatre combined with the visceral thrill of watching metal meet metal again and again until, finally, metal meets actor.
  • But it was also the subject of prosecutions under orthodox 19th century criminal law, all the elements of which survive.
Synonyms
1.1A small but significant amount of a feeling or quality: it was the element of danger he loved in flying
More example sentences
  • These qualities inject an element of interactivity in good drawings.
  • It was a dialogue - based work with a significant element of psychology.
  • Protocols have been established, so there's a significant element of confidence when we go into humans.
Synonyms
trace, touch, hint, smattering, suspicion, soupçon
1.2 (elements) The rudiments of a subject: legal training may include the elements of economics and political science
More example sentences
  • And, I think that would be the best pedagogical introduction, to the elements of the subject-matter.
  • At the time when these papers were written he had received no instruction in mathematics beyond a few books of Euclid and the merest elements of algebra.
  • The book contained the elements of geometry and algebra in addition to the calculus.
Synonyms
1.3 (usually with modifier often elements) A group of people of a particular kind within a larger group: extreme right-wing elements in the army
More example sentences
  • There has even been speculation that some rogue elements within the British Army tried to sabotage Stevens' light aircraft last year.
  • I don't rule out that some rogue elements within, say, one unit might misbehave, but that does not make it at all a policy.
  • Muslim leaders in Britain agree that there are extremist elements within their communities but they disagree on how to tackle them.
1.4 Mathematics & Logic An entity that is a single member of a set.
More example sentences
  • In his talk Steinitz introduced an algebra over the ring of integers whose base elements are isomorphism classes of finite abelian groups.
  • Its elements are transformed into vectors of another linear space, in which data is assigned.
  • In his doctoral dissertation of 1934 he considered permutation groups whose elements are determined by the images of three points.
2 (also chemical element) Each of more than one hundred substances that cannot be chemically interconverted or broken down into simpler substances and are primary constituents of matter. Each element is distinguished by its atomic number, i.e. the number of protons in the nuclei of its atoms.
More example sentences
  • He called atoms of the second group isotopes, atoms of the same element with different atomic weights.
  • Early in 1999 synthesis of the element with atomic number 114 was reported.
  • He postulated that all the atoms of the same element have the same atomic mass, while the atoms of a different element have a different atomic mass.
3Any of the four substances (earth, water, air, and fire) regarded as the fundamental constituents of the world in ancient and medieval philosophy.
More example sentences
  • It was a story he recognised could only be told in terms of the four fundamental elements: earth, air, fire, water.
  • She controlled the four master elements: Fire, Water, Earth and Air.
  • I believe that there are four elements: earth, fire, water, and air.
4 (the elements) Strong winds, heavy rain, or other kinds of bad weather: there was no barrier against the elements
More example sentences
  • In the first part of the second half both sides had to defy the elements of wind and rain storms.
  • Life is still much the same: a constant battle against the elements, as wind and sleeting rain batter the coal-mining land to black slush and mud.
  • Palmer and his associates struggle through the elements wrapped in heavy furs, their breath freezing in the air.
Synonyms
the weather, the climate, meteorological conditions, atmospheric conditions/forces;
the wind, the rain, storms
5A person’s or animal’s natural or preferred environment: raised in Hawaii, the sea is his natural element
More example sentences
  • Larkham was in his element in his country's victory over Romania as he constantly probed for breaks against a brittle defence.
  • I do believe he was in his element last night as a country singer, but his performance just really annoyed me.
  • He used to sit in the pub in Greek Street, next to our office, surrounded by admirers, and he was in his element.
Synonyms
natural environment, favoured environment, familiar territory, territory, habitat, medium, milieu, sphere, field, domain, realm, circle, resort, haunt
6A part in an electric kettle, heater, or cooker which contains a wire through which an electric current is passed to provide heat.
More example sentences
  • An electric-resistance water heater has electric heating elements submerged in a storage tank.
  • The spokesman said preliminary investigations showed that overheated wires in a heater element, and an overloaded thermostat, may have been the cause.
  • They can - and will need to be - repaired over and over, mostly replacing the wire heating element and thermostat.
7 (elements) (In church use) the bread and wine of the Eucharist.
More example sentences
  • Both the consecrated elements and the church simply are the body of Christ.
  • The non-divine, but human-made Eucharistic elements of bread and wine can affect only the material body.
  • It is a sacred meal in which the minister consecrates the elements by asking God to set them apart from their normal and common uses.

Origin

Middle English (denoting fundamental constituents of the world or celestial objects): via Old French from Latin elementum 'principle, rudiment', translating Greek stoikheion 'step, component part'.

Phrases

be in (or out of) one's element

Be in (or not in) a situation or environment that one particularly likes and in which one can perform well: he was always in his element when working around the house
More example sentences
  • The mice scattered as he approached and pounced, and before long he was in his element.
  • The crowd did its best to make him feel welcome, but Gibson was clearly out of his element.
  • And so I found myself in Brighton and in my element.

Definition of element in:

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