General English

  • noun the joint in the middle of your arm



  • noun a hinged joint where the upper arm bone (humerus) joins the forearm bones (radius and ulna)

Real Estate

  • noun something, especially a piece of pipe, made with a bend in it


  • verb to dismiss (someone), to dispose of or reject (something). A more modern version of ‘give it/them the elbow’. It is often in the passive form ‘get elbowed’.

Origin & History of “elbow”

Logically enough, elbow means etymologically ‘arm bend’. It comes from a prehistoric west and north Germanīc *alinobogan (which also produced German ellenbogen, Dutch elleboog, and Danish albue). This was a compound formed from *alinā ‘forearm’ and *bogan (source of English bow). However, there is a further twist. For *alinā (source also of English ell (OE), a measure of length equal to that of the forearm) itself goes back ultimately to an Indo-European base *el-, *ele- which itself meant ‘bend’, and produced not just words for ‘forearm’ (such as Latin ulna), but also words for ‘elbow’ (such as Welsh elin). So at this deepest level of all, elbow means tautologically ‘bend bend’.