Meaning of ELEMENT in English


I. ˈeləmənt noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English, from Old French & Latin; Old French, from Latin elementum


a. : one of the simple substances air, water, fire, and earth of which according to early natural philosophers the physical universe was composed

b. : one of these substances in its natural form or occurrence

the element of the fire is quite put out — John Donne

drank of the pure and limpid element


(1) : one of the celestial spheres of ancient astronomy : one of the celestial bodies

(2) : heavens, sky

d. elements plural : weather conditions viewed as activities of the elements ; especially : violent or severe weather

attacked by the full fury of the elements


(1) : one of the four elements viewed as a natural habitat

water is the element of fishes

(2) : the state or sphere natural or suited to any person or thing

in that cloistered academic atmosphere he was in his element

mystery was his mental element — T.L.Peacock

2. : one of the constituent parts, principles, materials, or traits of anything : one of the relatively simple forms or units that enter variously into a complex substance or thing

bricks are elements of a wall

cells are elements of living bodies

: one of the simplest parts or principles of which anything consists or into which it may be analyzed: as

a. elements plural : the bread and wine used in the Eucharist

b. elements plural : the simplest principles of any art, science, or subject of study : rudiments

mastered the elements of this abstruse and subtle doctrine

taught him the elements of geometry

c. : one of a number of distinct or disparate units, parts, traits, or characteristics of which something tangible or intangible is composed

the constitution was oddly compounded of democratic and feudal elements

there was an element of gravity in his appearance

specifically : one of a number of distinct or different groups or classes of which a human community is composed

the criminal element in this city

he obtained the solid support of the laboring element


(1) : a part of a geometric magnitude (as of an area)

(2) : a generator of a geometric figure (as of a cone)

(3) : one of a set of numbers (as in a progression) or of symbols (as in a matrix)


(1) : one of the necessary data or values upon which a system of calculations depends or general conclusions are based

the elements of a planet's orbit

(2) : one of the factors or conditions playing a part in or determining the outcome of some process or activity

fine teamwork and hard hitting were key elements in the team's pennant victory

f. : any of more than 100 fundamental metallic and nonmetallic substances that consist of atoms of only one kind and that either singly or in combination constitute all matter, most of these substances lighter in weight than and including uranium being found in nature and the rest being produced artificially by causing changes in the atomic nucleus (as by bombardment) : a substance that is composed exclusively of atoms having the same atomic number and that cannot be separated into simpler substances by ordinary chemical means — compare compound III 2a, elementary particle ; see isotope , periodic table , radioelement

g. : a distinct part of a composite device (as the cathode, grid, and plate of a triode, the individual lenses of an objective, or the two metals of a thermocouple)

circuit elements of a doorbell installation

heating element of an electric iron

h. : one of the basic constituent units of a tissue (as a cell or fiber)

i. : any of the modified cells often lacking the protoplast and with end walls lacking wholly or in part that make up the vessels of xylem or the sieve tubes of phloem ; also : a young protoxylem cell before it has differentiated into a trachea or tracheid

j. : one of the subdivisions of a military unit (as a squad, company, or battalion

k. : a part of a biota (as a fossil biota) that is usually associated with a different region or environmental situation

an extrazonal element from Moravia — Biological Abstracts

l. : one of the physical properties or states of the atmosphere (as temperature, humidity, pressure, clouds, wind, or precipitation)


(1) : a simple component of perception : a sensation or sense datum

(2) : a member of a class in logic


component , constituent , ingredient , integrant , factor : element applies to anything, tangible or intangible, making up a part of a complex or compound whole

the elements of a house are the walls, roof, and floors — Military Engineer

the elements in an electrical circuit are electrical resistance, inductance, and electrical capacitance — H.F.Olson

another element common to all novels is characterization — R.D.Jacobs

another useful element in the theories of Paracelsus was the doctrine that diseases were highly specific in their action — S.F.Mason

It sometimes indicates irreducible simplicity

resolving the problem into its various elements

component and constituent are often interchangeable in applying to any parts comprising a compounded or complex thing or intangible system, although the first may occasionally call attention to the fact of existing as a separate entity, the second to the fact of comprising as a part

he employed numerous workmen to make the lock components by hand — S.F.Mason

in addition to the music-minded who will shop and combine components with view entirely to end results, there are those who prefer the convenience of an assembled unit — Irving Kolodin

the components of knowledge can never be harmonized until all the relevant facts are in — Bernard De Voto

to discover the structure of a chemical molecule it was necessary to know the combining numbers of its constituent atoms — S.F.Mason

the constituent elements in the great monopolies found other ways to maintain a community of interest — Allan Nevins & H.S.Commager

rhythm is a property of words, character a product that needs analysis before a satisfactory account of its effect can be given in terms of its constituents, and a product, moreover, that invites extraliterary scrutiny — C.H.Rickword

ingredient is more likely to stress notions of tangible substances that one combines together to form something else than the preceding words are

the ingredients of a cake

the ingredients of concrete

electric power is one of the basic ingredients of the nation's industrial and economic welfare — K.W.Hamilton

using the word “philosophic” to cover the unscientific ingredients of philosophy — T.S.Eliot

integrant may apply to a binding essential component. factor , often not a synonym for other words in this group, may apply to an element or component that exerts effectuating force toward composition, operation, or direction

the mechanical engineer bcame a dominant factor in a civilization based on the utilization of the energy in coal — Waldemar Kaempffert

only recently has the original Darwinian bias toward an overemphasis of the factor of natural selection yielded to the proper evaluation of other factors — Edward Sapir


II. transitive verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: back-formation from elemented, from Middle English, from element (I) + -ed

obsolete : to compose of elements

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.