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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.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(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]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


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]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
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
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
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. Not to quote the illustrious examples of those heroic scourges of mankind, whose amiable path in life has been from birth to death through blood, and fire, and ruin, and who would seem to have existed for no better purpose than to teach mankind that as the absence of pain is pleasure, so the earth, purged of their presence, may be deemed a blessed place--not to quote such mighty instances, it will be sufficient to refer to old John Willet.
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.
Her whole time was spent in making patchwork quilts with knitting-needles that were an arshin [An ell.] long.
"Go, now, like a dear an' buy me a can, an' if yer mudder raises 'ell all night yehs can sleep here."
"'Ell's to pay, sir, on this 'ere craft, an' mark my word for it, sir.
you devil!" and the crash of an empty bottle against the back of his aunt's woodshed brought him wide awake, and a single minute later he was dressed and out of the win- dow and creeping along the roof of the "ell" on all fours.
Cloth at twenty-five livres an ell! gorgeous satin!
Nex' time you can go to 'ell, say I, an' I've a good mind to give you what-for anyw'y."
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.
"Number two--seven ells of red Turkey cloth and nine ells of cloth of gold.
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.