From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary


Origin: as. Aelf, ylf; akin to MHG. Alp, g. Alp nightmare, incubus, Icel. Ltr elf, Sw. Alf, elfva; cf. Skr. Rbhu skillful, artful, rabh to grasp. Cf. Auf, Oaf.

1. An imaginary supernatural being, commonly a little sprite, much like a fairy; a mythological diminutive spirit, supposed to haunt hills and wild places, and generally represented as delighting in mischievous tricks. Every elf, and fairy sprite, hop as light as bird from brier. (Shak)

2. A very diminutive person; a dwarf. Elf arrow, a flint arrowhead; so called by the english rural folk who often find these objects of prehistoric make in the fields and formerly attributed them to fairies; called also elf bolt, elf dart, and elf shot. Elf child, a child supposed to be left by elves, in room of one they had stolen. See Changeling. Elf fire, the ignis fatuus.

(Science: zoology) elf owl, a small owl (Micrathene Whitneyi) of southern California and arizona.