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.