AskDefine | Define elf

Dictionary Definition

elf

Noun

1 (folklore) fairies that are somewhat mischievous [syn: hob, gremlin, pixie, pixy, brownie, imp]
2 below 3 kilohertz [syn: extremely low frequency] [also: elves (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Elf see ELF

English

Etymology

Middle English from Old English ælf (incubus, elf). Originated from Indo-European root *albho- (brilliant, shining white) via Teutonic languages.

Pronunciation

Noun

  1. A mythical, supernatural being resembling but seen as distinct from humans.
  2. A luminous spirit presiding over nature and fertility and dwelling in the world of Álfheim (Elfland). Compare angel, nymph, fairy.
  3. Any of the magical, humanoid, typically forest-guarding races bearing some similarities to the Norse álfar (through Tolkien's Eldar).
Translations
a mythical being

References

  • Marshall Jones Company (1930). Mythology of All Races Series, Volume 2 Eddic, Great Britain: Marshall Jones Company, 1930, pp. 220-221.

Afrikaans

Numeral

elf

Dutch

Pronunciation

Numeral

elf

Noun

  1. elf (mythical creature)
  2. brownie
  1. The number eleven, or a representation thereof.

German

See also Elf

Etymology

Old High German einlif

Pronunciation

Numeral

elf

Maltese

Etymology

From Arabic

Numeral

elf

Polish

Noun

elf m (''plural:elfy)
  1. elf, mythical or fantasy creature

Usage notes

The plural for the Tolkien creatures is usually elfowie.

Extensive Definition

An elf is a creature of Germanic mythology. The elves were originally imagined as a race of minor nature and fertility gods, who are often pictured as youthful-seeming men and women of great beauty living in forests and underground places and caves, or in wells and springs. They have been portrayed to be long-lived or immortal and as beings of magical powers. Following J. R. R. Tolkien's influential The Lord of the Rings, wherein a wise, immortal people named Elves have a significant role, elves became staple characters of modern fantasy (see Elves in fantasy fiction and games).

Etymology

The English word elf is from Old English ælf (also ylf), from a Proto-Germanic *albo-z, *albi-z, whence also Old Norse álfr, Middle High German elbe. In Middle English, until the 14th century, elf was the masculine, while the corresponding feminine was elven (Old English ælfen, from *albinnja).
The word's ultimate etymology may be the Proto-Indo-European root *albh- meaning "white", from which also stems the Latin albus "white". Alternatively, a connection to the Rbhus, semi-divine craftsmen in Indian mythology, has also been suggested (OED). In this case, a Latin etymological root cognate would be labor.
Elf can only be pluralised as elves, elfs and elf's are not valid plurals although often found written as such. Something associated with elves or the qualities of elves is described by the adjectives elven, elvish, elfin or elfish. According to a convention of modern fantasy, the 'v' in elven or elvish refers to human-sized elves (who correspond more closely to those of the old Germanic paganism), whereas the f in elfin or elfish refers to tiny-sized elfs (who correspond more closely to the folklore of the Renaissance and Romantic Eras).
The corresponding terms in Germanic languages other than English are:
  • North Germanic
    • Old Norse: álfr, plural álfar.
    • Icelandic: álfar, álfafólk and huldufólk (hidden people).
    • Danish: Elver, elverfolk or alfer (note alfer today translates to fairies). .
    • Norwegian: alv, alven, alver, alvene / alvefolket (note alvefolket today translates to elfpeople)
    • Swedish: alfer, alver or älvor (feminine form - today translated to fairies).
  • Continental West Germanic
  • Gothic *albs, plural *albeis (Procopius has the personal name Albila)

Elves in Norse mythology

The first appearance of modern fantasy elves occurred in The King of Elfland's Daughter a 1924 novel by Lord Dunsany. The next modern work featuring elves was The Hobbit, a 1937 children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. Elves played a major role in many of Tolkien's later works, notably The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien's writing has such popularity that in the 1960s and afterwards, elves similar to those in Tolkien's novels became staple non-human characters in high fantasy works and in fantasy role-playing games. Post-Tolkien fantasy elves (popularized by the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game) tend to be more beautiful and more wise than humans, with sharper senses and perceptions. They are also said to be much more gifted in magic and stronger physically and mentally (although this can be disputed by comparing human advances in technology to the somewhat rustic elven technology). Often elves do not possess facial or body hair, and are consequently perceived to be androgynous. A hallmark of fantasy elves is also their long and pointed ears (a convention begun with a note of Tolkien's that the ears of elves were "leaf-shaped"). Elves of the Tolkien mold have become standardized staple characters of modern fantasy. It is worth noting that those things described as being of or related to these fair elves are referred to as "elven", as opposed to "elfish" (a term more closely associated with the sprite-like elves of medieval conception).

References

Citations

General

Other beliefs Some believe that elves are actually humans just genetically mutated. The are smarter in some ways, stronger, faster, and are basically just super human. Most of these elves are pagans.

See also

Concerning traditional elves:
Related folklore creatures: Miscellaneous:
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elf in Bulgarian: Елфи
elf in Catalan: Elf
elf in Czech: Elf
elf in Danish: Elverfolk
elf in German: Elfen
elf in Modern Greek (1453-): Ξωτικά
elf in Spanish: Elfo
elf in Esperanto: Elfo
elf in French: Elfe
elf in Galician: Elfo
elf in Korean: 엘프
elf in Croatian: Vilenjak
elf in Indonesian: Peri
elf in Icelandic: Álfur
elf in Italian: Elfo
elf in Hebrew: אלף (פנטזיה)
elf in Latin: Alfus
elf in Lithuanian: Elfai
elf in Malay (macrolanguage): Orang halus
elf in Dutch: Elf (mythologie)
elf in Japanese: エルフ
elf in Norwegian: Alv
elf in Norwegian Nynorsk: Alv
elf in Polish: Elf (fantastyka)
elf in Portuguese: Elfo
elf in Romanian: Elf
elf in Russian: Эльф
elf in Swedish: Quendi
elf in Thai: พราย
elf in Turkish: Elf
elf in Ukrainian: Альви
elf in Chinese: 精靈
elf in Slovak: Elf

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Ariel, Befind, Corrigan, Dingbelle, Fifinella, Finnbeara, Hob, Hobgoblin, JD, Lilliputian, Mab, Oberon, Puck, Titania, Tom Thumb, bad boy, bad fairy, bad peri, banshee, booger, brat, brownie, buffoon, bugger, cluricaune, cutup, devil, deviling, devilkin, diablotin, dwarf, enfant terrible, erlking, fairy, fairy queen, fay, funmaker, gamin, gnome, goblin, gremlin, hob, holy terror, homunculus, hood, hoodlum, hooligan, imp, joker, jokester, juvenile delinquent, knave, kobold, leprechaun, little devil, little monkey, little rascal, manikin, midge, midget, minx, mischief, mischief-maker, ouphe, peewee, peri, pip-squeak, pixie, poltergeist, pooka, practical joker, prankster, puca, puck, punk, punk kid, pwca, pygmy, rapscallion, rascal, rogue, rowdy, ruffian, runt, scamp, scapegrace, shrimp, spoiled brat, sprite, sylph, sylphid, tokoloshe, urchin, wag, wart, whippersnapper, young devil
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