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el·e·phant  (ĕlə-fənt)
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n.
1. Any of several very large herbivorous mammals of the family Elephantidae native to Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, having thick, almost hairless skin, a long, flexible, prehensile trunk, upper incisors forming long curved tusks of ivory, and, in the African species, large fan-shaped ears.
2. Any of various extinct animals of the family Elephantidae.
Idiom:
elephant in the room
A matter or problem that is obvious or of great importance but that is not discussed openly.

[Middle English elefaunt, from Old French elefant, from Latin elephantus, from Greek elephās, elephant-, ivory, elephant, probably of Afro-Asiatic origin; akin to Tawllemet (Berber language of Mali) eləw and Mokilko (Chadic language of central Chad) 'êlbi, elephant, and possibly also to Egyptian 3bw, elephant, ivory, and Oromo arba, elephant.]
(click for a larger image)
(click for a larger image)
elephant
top: African bush elephant
Loxodonta africana
bottom: Asian elephant
Elephas maximus

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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