noun, plural elks, (especially collectively) elk for 1, 2.
- Also called European elk. the moose, Alces alces.
- Also called American elk, wapiti. a large North American deer, Cervus canadensis, the male of which has large, spreading antlers.
- a pliable leather used for sport shoes, made originally of elk hide but now of calfskin or cowhide tanned and smoked to resemble elk hide.
- (initial capital letter) a member of a fraternal organization (Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks) that supports or contributes to various charitable causes.
noun plural elks or elk
- a large deer, Alces alces, of N Europe and Asia, having large flattened palmate antlers: also occurs in North America, where it is called a moose
- American elk another name for wapiti
- a stout pliable waterproof leather made from calfskin or horsehide
late Old English, from Old Norse elgr or from an alteration of Old English elh, eolh (perhaps via French scribes), or possibly from Middle High German elch (OED’s suggestion), all from Proto-Germanic *elkh- (cf. Old High German elaho),
The Germanic words are related to the general word for “deer” in Balto-Slavic (cf. Russian losu, Czech los; also cf. eland), from PIE *olki-, perhaps with reference to the reddish color from root *el- (2) “red, brown” (in animal and tree names); cf. Sanskrit harina- “deer,” from hari- “reddish-brown.” Greek alke and Latin alces probably are Germanic loan-words. Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks founded N.Y.C. 1868, originally a society of actors and writers.