Definition of element noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

Oxford3000 Academic


; ˈelɪmənt


1 [countable] element (in/of something) a necessary or typical part of somethingCost 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 [countable, usually singular] element of surprise, risk, truth, etc. a small amount of a quality or feelingWe need to preserve the element of surprise.There appears to be an element of truth in his story.

group of people

3 [countable, usually plural] a group of people who form a part of a larger group or societymoderate/radical elements within the partyunruly elements in the school


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


5 [countable] one of the four substances: earth, air, fire and water, which people used to believe everything else was made of


6 the elements [plural] the weather, especially bad weatherAre we going to brave the elements and go for a walk?to be exposed to the elements

basic principles

7 elements [plural] the basic principles of a subject that you have to learn first
He taught me the elements of map-reading.


8 [countable, usually singular] a natural or suitable environment, especially for an animalWater is a fish's natural element.

electrical part

9 [countable] the part of a piece of electrical equipment that gives out heatThe kettle needs a new element.

in your element

doing what you are good at and enjoy
She's really in her element at parties.

out of your element

in a situation that you are not used to and that makes you feel uncomfortable
I feel out of my element talking about politics.