Definition of elfin in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈɛlfɪn/


1(Of a person or their face) small and delicate, typically with a mischievous charm: her black hair suited her elfin face
More example sentences
  • Vanessa sits cross-legged on her bed in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, a tiny, elfin figure with a striking, delicate face that looks as if it has been gently chiselled from creamy alabaster.
  • In another one of Random Acts's monologues, a petite, elfin woman in a peach sweater squares herself off at the confessor's table, and begins to talk with a slight southern lilt.
  • The tiny, elfin figure that is Canada's most lauded novelist is sipping cappuccino from a china cup in an opulent hotel lounge.
elflike, elfish, elvish, pixie-like;
puckish, impish, playful, mischievous;
dainty, delicate, small, petite, slight, little, tiny, diminutive
2Relating to elves: an enchanted world of fairies in elfin glades
More example sentences
  • Well, I bring you a cautionary tale from the elfin handbook.
  • Still, she is relaxed, her elfin features creased in a permanent smile.
  • The elfin courses went to great lengths to outdo their competitors.


1 archaic An elf.
Example sentences
  • And Yarthe was empty, but for the elfin, and the elfin quite naturally took it for theirs.
  • His clan was that of no other, contrary to the beliefs of all other races, Masheleec Urik conceived that the Duroug elfins were a striking image of some god, whose obligation it was to drive all other races to the brink of utter destruction.
  • A combative elfin gets a mission to snaffle a magic book in the country of Moria.
2A small North American butterfly that is typically brownish with markings on the wing margins that give the impression of scalloped edges.
  • Genus Incisalia, family Lycaenidae


Late 16th century: from elf, probably suggested by Middle English elvene 'of elves', and by Elphin, the name of a character in Arthurian romance.

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words