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English language learner

ell 1

1. A subsidiary wing of a building, usually oriented at right angles to the main structure.
2. A right-angled bend in a pipe or conduit; an elbow.

[From its resemblance to the shape of the capital letter L, or short for elbow.]

ell 2

Any of several historical units of measure, originally based on the length of the arm or forearm but later standardized at other lengths, such as the English ell of 45 inches (114 centimeters).

[Middle English, from Old English eln, the length from the elbow to the middle finger's tip, ell; see el- in Indo-European roots.]

ell 3

Variant of el1.


(Units) an obsolete unit of length equal to approximately 45 inches
[Old English eln the forearm (the measure originally being from the elbow to the fingertips); related to Old High German elina, Latin ulna, Greek ōlenē]


1. (Architecture) an extension to a building, usually at right angles and located at one end
2. (Building) a pipe fitting, pipe, or tube with a sharp right-angle bend
[C20: a spelling of L, indicating a right angle]


or el


1. an extension usu. at right angles to one end of a building or room.
[1765–75; a sp. of the letter name, or by shortening of elbow]



a former measure of length, varying in different countries: in England equal to 45 inches (114 cm).
[before 950; Middle English, Old English eln; c. Old Norse eln, Old High German elina, Gothic aleina, Latin ulna forearm, Greek ōlénē. compare elbow]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.ell - an extension at the end and at right angles to the main building
annex, annexe, wing, extension - an addition that extends a main building
References in classic literature ?
A homely proverb recognises the existence of a troublesome class of persons who, having an inch conceded them, will take an ell.
Old John having long encroached a good standard inch, full measure, on the liberty of Joe, and having snipped off a Flemish ell in the matter of the parole, grew so despotic and so great, that his thirst for conquest knew no bounds.
He used to take her away to their room in the west ell, and talk over his business with her all evening.
To use his own words, further, he said, "If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell.
Her whole time was spent in making patchwork quilts with knitting-needles that were an arshin [An ell.
It was according to the old saying, "Give a nigger an inch and he'll take an ell.
The first target was to be placed at thirty ells distance, and all those who hit its center were allowed to shoot at the second target, placed ten ells farther off.
The trumpet sounded again, and a new target was set up at forty ells.
They missed one after another and dropped moodily back, while the trumpet sounded for the third round, and the target was set up fifty ells distant.
Number two--seven ells of red Turkey cloth and nine ells of cloth of gold.
Rapunzel had magnificent long hair, fine as spun gold, and when she heard the voice of the enchantress she unfastened her braided tresses, wound them round one of the hooks of the window above, and then the hair fell twenty ells down, and the enchantress climbed up by it.
Then the Secondary Education Department faculty conducted an ELL Infusion Audit of current secondary education program offerings.