From Middle English elbowe, from Old English elboga, elnboga (“elbow”), from Proto-Germanic *alinabugô (“elbow”), equivalent to ell + bow. Cognate with Scots elbuck (“elbow”), Saterland Frisian Älbooge (“elbow”), Dutch elleboog (“elbow”), Low German Ellebage (“elbow”), German Ellbogen, Ellenbogen (“elbow”), Danish albue (“elbow”), Icelandic olbogi, olnbogi (“elbow”).
elbow (plural elbows)
- (anatomy) The joint between the upper arm and the forearm.
- 1907, Robert W. Chambers, chapter VIII, in The Younger Set:
- Elbows almost touching they leaned at ease, idly reading the almost obliterated lines engraved there. ¶ "I never understood it," she observed, lightly scornful. "What occult meaning has a sun-dial for the spooney? I'm sure I don't want to read riddles in a strange gentleman's optics."
- (by extension) Any turn or bend like that of the elbow, in a wall, building, coastline, etc.; an angular or jointed part of any structure, such as the raised arm of a chair or sofa, or a short pipe fitting, turning at an angle or bent.
- the sides of windows, where the jamb makes an elbow with the window back
- (US, dated, early 20th-century slang) A detective.
- 1924, Dashiell Hammett, Zigzags of Treachery:
- "An elbow, huh?" putting all the contempt he could in his voice; and somehow any synonym for detective seems able to hold a lot of contempt.
- (basketball) Part of a basketball court located at the intersection of the free-throw line and the free-throw lane.
- To push with the elbow.
- He elbowed his way through the crowd.
- (by extension) To nudge, jostle or push.
- 1993, Dana Stabenow, A Fatal Thaw, →ISBN, page 105:
- Suddenly and with all her heart Kate longed to be home, back at the homestead, to participate in the rambunctious toss and jostle as breakup elbowed its way into the Park.