Definition of elbow in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɛlbəʊ/


1The joint between the forearm and the upper arm: she propped herself up on one elbow
More example sentences
  • It is now possible to replace almost all the joints of the body, including hips, knees, elbows, shoulders, ankles, and fingers.
  • Valgus stress is applied to the elbow with maximal forearm pronation.
  • This presents with a maculopapular rash and arthralgia, typically affecting the wrist, knees, elbows, and ankles.
arm joint, bend of the arm
1.1The part of the sleeve of a garment covering the elbow: I darned the elbows of my corduroy jacket
More example sentences
  • Critical zones on a gown are the cuff to the elbow, sleeve seams, and the front of the gown.
  • For extra attention, select a cardigan with small pockets or leather patches on the elbows.
  • The dress puffed out below the waist, and had puffy sleeves, until the elbow, where they became skin-tight.
1.2A thing resembling an elbow, in particular a piece of piping bent through an angle: a cross-fitting with elbows and straight pipework
More example sentences
  • Use ridged flex aluminum or ridged four-inch elbows and straight vent pipe to vent your dryer.
  • Unfortunately most gutter installers simply terminate the downspout with an elbow at the bottom.
  • On each occasion a kink, jerk or quirk was evident in his action that seemed to come from the straightening of a bent elbow.
bend, joint, curve, corner, (right) angle, crook
technical flexure


[with object and adverbial]
1Push or strike (someone) with one’s elbow: one player had elbowed another in the face
More example sentences
  • But by 6 pm, invaders had already taken over the band, jostling, pushing and elbowing anyone in their path, forcing reluctant revelers to the sides of the road.
  • The second his back was on me, I elbowed him hard and pushed him towards the other guy, who had slowly stood up.
  • Players are elbowing opponents and get one match ban, it is quite amazing.
push (one's way), shove (one's way), force (one's way), shoulder (one's way), jostle (one's way), nudge, muscle, bulldoze, bludgeon one's way
1.1 [no object, with adverbial of direction] Move by pushing past people with one’s elbows: he elbowed his way through the crush
More example sentences
  • She took the bowl of chips and elbowed past us to the parlor.
  • Ian elbowed past him silently and went upstairs.
  • Three suitors elbowed past Derick, but he was concentrating so hard on the scenery that he hardly noticed.
2Treat (a person or idea) dismissively: the issues which concerned them tended to be elbowed aside by men
More example sentences
  • The play is set at a time when an indulgent old order was elbowed aside by brash, pragmatic modernisers, a process so widely witnessed in the past century that it has always seemed relevant.
  • The classics have gradually been elbowed aside in favour of more unusual music: Villa Lobos last spring, for example, and an all - American programme just before it.
  • The current chairman, a businessman and former police commissioner, is said to have been elbowed aside by Reilly.



at one's elbow

Close at hand; nearby: he was standing at her elbow, holding out her glass
More example sentences
  • And Tom started toward an edge of the group, and she followed close at his elbow, in his sandy footprints.
  • With spirits whirling through his Christmas, Dickens still has one hand nudging at your elbow and another just resisting a clutch at a pretty girl's skirt.
  • You want to find an easy chair with by a fire and have a brandy at your elbow and your feet up (along with a large circle of friends and family all gathered round in eager expectation).


Very close together: on the bank were dozens of anglers fishing elbow-to-elbow
More example sentences
  • Thousands of Wall Street bankers and brokers found themselves working elbow-to-elbow with their keenest rivals yesterday as firms made space available for competitors with burnt-out buildings.
  • An elbow-to-elbow, vacuum-packed dancefloor pulsated with a noisy crowd that continually caught furtive glances at themselves in the wall-to-wall mirrors.
  • Ulverstonians went elbow-to-elbow at the weekend to get a glimpse of new plans drawn-up for revamping the industrial area around the UK's shortest canal as well as town centre landmarks.

give someone the elbow

British informal Reject or dismiss someone: I tried to get her to give him the elbow she decided to give tradition the elbow
More example sentences
  • He had turned bitter when she gave him the elbow for another man, and bombarded her with silent phone calls until police warned him off.
  • I have been married for 17 years, and I am not planning to give him the elbow.
  • But there's a few loyal sons eager to give her the elbow.
dismiss, axe, give someone notice, make redundant, throw out, get rid of, lay off, let go, discharge
informal sack, fire, kick out, boot out, give someone the sack, give someone the boot, give someone the bullet, give someone the (old) heave-ho, give someone the push, give someone their marching orders, show someone the door
British informal give someone their cards

up to one's elbows in

With one’s hands plunged in (something): I was up to my elbows in the cheese-potato mixture
More example sentences
  • We find the Dr. Hawking at work in the apartment's living room, wearing his lab coat and up to his elbows in what used to the apartment's fridge, now lying on its back and being converted into a homeostochastic chamber.
  • But for now, while you are up to your elbows in sandpits and play dough, the world around you is overwhelmingly female.
  • Want to be up to your elbows in grease with some hunky blokes?
4.1Deeply involved in (a task or activity): we’re going to get up to our elbows in the selection process
More example sentences
  • It's been a truly enjoyable break, working away like a team again, even if most of our time was spent up to our elbows in junk.
  • Yesterday I spent slaving away up to my elbows in a hot Unix shell.
  • Once again, I'll be up to my elbows in it tomorrow, so I won't be able to prepare a fresh Scary Story.


Old English elboga, elnboga, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch elleboog and German Ellenbogen (see also ell1, bow1).

  • bow from Old English:

    The bow of a ship has nothing to do with a person bowing in respect or a support bowing under pressure. The nautical bow (early 17th century) is in fact related to bough (Old English), the limb of a tree. Its immediate source, in the later Middle Ages, was German or Dutch. The phrase a shot across the bows, ‘a warning statement or gesture’, has its origins in the world of naval warfare, where it is one which is not intended to hit, but to make ships stop or alter their course. See also buxom. The archer's bow and the act of bending, both Old English, are related and come from Germanic roots. The archer's bow got its name from the shape, which also appears in Old English rainbow and elbow (Old English). The first part of the latter gives us the old measurement the ell, a variable measure, originally the distance from elbow to fingertip, which comes from the Indo-European root that also gives us ulna (mid 16th century) for the bone that runs from elbow to wrist.

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