El"e*phant (?), n. [OE. elefaunt, olifant, OF. olifant, F. 'el'ephant, L. elephantus, elephas, -antis, fr. Gr. , ; of unknown origin; perh. fr. Skr. ibha, with the Semitic article al, el, prefixed, or fr. Semitic Aleph hindi Indian bull; or cf. Goth. ulbandus camel, AS. olfend.]

1. Zool.

A mammal of the order Proboscidia, of which two living species, Elephas Indicus and E. Africanus, and several fossil species, are known. They have a proboscis or trunk, and two large ivory tusks proceeding from the extremity of the upper jaw, and curving upwards. The molar teeth are large and have transverse folds. Elephants are the largest land animals now existing.


Ivory; the tusk of the elephant.


Dryden. <-- Illustr. of Elephant. -->

Elephant apple Bot., an East Indian fruit with a rough, hard rind, and edible pulp, borne by Feronia elephantum, a large tree related to the orange. -- Elephant bed Geol., at Brighton, England, abounding in fossil remains of elephants. Mantell. -- Elephant beetle Zool., any very large beetle of the genus Goliathus (esp. G. giganteus), of the family Scarabaeidae. They inhabit West Africa. -- Elephant fish Zool., a chimaeroid fish (Callorhynchus antarcticus), with a proboscis-like projection of the snout. -- Elephant paper, paper of large size, 23 × 28 inches. -- Double elephant paper, paper measuring 26 × 40 inches. See Note under Paper. -- Elephant seal Zool., an African jumping shrew (Macroscelides typicus), having a long nose like a proboscis. -- Elephant's ear Bot., a name given to certain species of the genus Begonia, which have immense one-sided leaves. -- Elephant's foot Bot. (a) A South African plant (Testudinaria Elephantipes), which has a massive rootstock covered with a kind of bark cracked with deep fissures; -- called also tortoise plant. The interior part is barely edible, whence the plant is also called Hottentot's bread. (b) A genus (Elephantopus) of coarse, composite weeds. -- Elephant's tusk Zool., the tooth shell. See Dentalium.


© Webster 1913.