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.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: elfin

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