Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A group or class of persons or a member of such a group or class, enjoying superior intellectual, social, or economic status: "In addition to notions of social equality there was much emphasis on the role of elites and of heroes within them” ( Times Literary Supplement).
  • n. The best or most skilled members of a group: the football team's elite.
  • n. A size of type on a typewriter, equal to 12 characters per linear inch.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of high birth or social position; aristocratic or patrician.
  • adj. Representing the choicest or most select of a group.
  • n. A special group or social class of people which have a superior intellectual, social or economic status as, the elite of society.
  • n. Someone who is among the best at certain task.

Etymologies

French élite, from Old French eslite, from feminine past participle of eslire, to choose, from Latin ēligere; see elect.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French elit, eslit ("chosen, elected") past participle of elire, eslire ("to choose, elect"), from Latin eligere ("to choose, elect"); see elect. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • There was a time, a dozen years ago, the term elite was carried with them quite a bit.

    CNN Transcript Mar 22, 2003

  • But the term elite has not yet been plasticized into the absurd, and it still retains a certain connotation that can change depending on what we use it to modify.

    Bookslut

  • He resumed his criticism of the US media, a line popular with Republican audiences, and what he called the elite in New York and Washington.

    Newt Gingrich ruins Romney's night with decisive victory in South Carolina

  • I think the term elite is used in that sense to contrast these cultural elites with, again, business elites who at least had to you know, they had to make money.

    Decoding 2010 Political Attack Buzzwords

  • Just like in Mexico, where the elite is almost all white.

    Matthew Yglesias » Enforcement

  • Nelson Ramodike, and what he described as his elite group, were of more importance to the ANC than the suffering of ordinary people.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • Mr Little acknowledged that Eton had a reputation for elitism but insisted that "what we need to do is reclaim the word elite".

    Telegraph.co.uk - Telegraph online, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph

  • Look around you, these people kwhitegocubs 4 minutes ago 10:34 PM Somebody decided to comment without reading the commentary ­, looking at statistics­, evaluating our real-world income and wealth inequality ­, and having any idea what the word "elite" means.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • Green sought to turn his outsider status into a campaign asset, telling voters that if every Supreme Court justice came from the "same judicial cookie-cutter cloth," the court would resemble the nation's roster of federal judges, which he described as elite and out of touch.

    statesman.com - Highschool

  • It's the short version and what I refer to as the elite's "masterpiece".

    henrymakow.com

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "We could, following her Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's strenuously folksy debate performance, wonder when elite became a bad thing in America. Navy Seals are elite, and they get lots of training so they can swim underwater and invade a foreign country, but if you’re governing the country that dispatches the Seals, it’s not O.K. to be elite? Can likable still trump knowledgeable at such a vulnerable crossroads for the country?"

    – Maureen Dowd, "Sarah's Pompom Palaver", New York Times, 4 Oct 2008

    October 6, 2008