American English

Definition of element noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable] element (in/of something) a necessary or typical part of something Cost was a key element in our decision. The story has all the elements of a soap opera. Customer relations is an important element of the job.
  2. 2[countable, usually singular] element of surprise, risk, truth, etc. a small amount of a quality or feeling We need to preserve the element of surprise. There appears to be an element of truth in his story.
  3. group of people
  4. 3[countable, usually plural] a group of people who form a part of a larger group or society moderate/radical elements within the party unruly elements in the school
  5. chemistry
  6. 4[countable] a simple chemical substance that consists of atoms of only one type and cannot be split by chemical means into a simpler substance. Gold, oxygen, and carbon are all elements. compare compound
  7. earth/air/fire/water
  8. 5[countable] one of the four substances: earth, air, fire, and water, that people used to believe everything else was made of
  9. weather
  10. 6the elements [plural] the weather, especially bad weather Are we going to brave the elements and go for a walk? to be exposed to the elements
  11. basic principles
  12. 7elements [plural] the basic principles of a subject that you have to learn first synonym basics He taught me the elements of map-reading.
  13. environment
  14. 8[countable, usually singular] a natural or suitable environment, especially for an animal Water is a fish's natural element.
  15. electrical part
  16. 9[countable] the part of a piece of electrical equipment that gives out heat The broiler needs a new element.
  17. Idioms
    in your element
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    doing what you are good at and enjoy She's really in her element at parties.
    out of your element
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    in a situation that you are not used to and that makes you feel uncomfortable I feel out of my element talking about politics.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: element