Definition of elite in English:



  • 1[treated as singular or plural] A select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society.

    ‘the elite of Britain's armed forces’
    [as modifier] ‘an elite athlete’
    ‘an elite commando unit’
    [as modifier] ‘elite colleges and universities’
    • ‘This was replaced from the 17th to 19th centuries by the noble and educated elites.’
    • ‘While the regime worked with the elites, it proved helpless when the people took to the streets.’
    • ‘In fact, Murray comments that societal elites were less likely to be religious.’
    • ‘One should bear in mind that the media and intellectual elites generally have their particular agendas.’
    • ‘There is a growing tendency to conflate the interests of the governing elites with those of the nation.’
    • ‘For Serbian elites it is the international community that must not be let down, rather than the electorate.’
    • ‘Town life also presented new challenges of economic and social organization to urban elites.’
    • ‘The elites in those countries look at us and marvel at what we show is possible, even if they do think we have had it easy.’
    • ‘One should bear in mind that the media and the intellectual elites generally have their particular agendas.’
    • ‘But we view our own political elites, fighting against them, with more than a hint of suspicion.’
    • ‘It is a model strictly for people who are into hierarchical societies with bossy elites who like to display their power.’
    • ‘He says the action is in the cities, where urban elites are the future of the country.’
    • ‘As he put it himself on the weekend, he will have finally defeated the elites.’
    • ‘Political parties tend to follow ethnic lines and draw their leaders from educated elites.’
    • ‘They reflect the values of the elites, and not their larger working class constituency.’
    • ‘Yet the poor, especially, need the power of democracy to defend themselves against corrupt elites.’
    • ‘Highly sophisticated elites are the easiest and least original thing a society can produce.’
    • ‘Blinding hatred and contempt seem to be common reactions among the enlightened elites.’
    • ‘The traditional elites were relegated into the background several decades ago.’
    • ‘You all look so good when you cluster in little groups forming elite social circles.’
    best, pick, cream, flower, nonpareil, elect
    aristocracy, nobility, gentry, upper class, privileged class, first class, establishment
    high society, jet set, beautiful people
    beau monde, haut monde, crème de la crème, a-list
    four hundred
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[treated as singular or plural]A group or class of people seen as having the most power and influence in a society, especially on account of their wealth or privilege.
      ‘the country's governing elite’
      ‘the silent majority were looked down upon by the liberal elite’
      • ‘This issue owes less to public prejudice than to the conceit of the liberal elite.’
      • ‘Over the past decade, the Western political elite has experienced a profound disorientation.’
      • ‘The political elite now regards him as beyond the pale.’
      • ‘The liberal elite showed it was way out of touch even before the election.’
      • ‘The report estimated the net worth of the world's wealthy elite at 30.2 trillion dollars.’
      • ‘In poor countries with unstable democracies, too little oil money comes back to benefit the people and is instead being spent on maintaining political and personal power of the ruling elite.’
      • ‘The 1960s precipitated a major crisis of confidence among the ruling elites.’
      • ‘We are ruled by an elite where money talks louder than morals and ethics.’
      • ‘What we need is a democratic economy where decisions on what is needed are made by the people and not by the corporate elite.’
      • ‘In recent decades, successive governments have carried out policies aimed at benefiting a tiny privileged elite at the expense of the broad mass of working people.’
      • ‘This political apathy enabled the ruling elites to exercise their authority unconstrained by popular pressure.’
      • ‘When it comes to vital resources like water and land, free market is the dominant mantra of the world's financial elite.’
      • ‘The oil is owned by the state but had been controlled by an elite who kept the profits amongst themselves.’
      • ‘It's another show of political correctness from the liberal elite.’
      • ‘The world's super-rich elites are using tax avoidance techniques to hoard huge amounts of wealth.’
      • ‘Polls show that the British people are inexorably losing faith in their governing elites and institutions.’
      • ‘Part of this strategy was to portray the press as members of a liberal elite that was out of touch with these real Americans.’
      • ‘Unless you're a CEO or a millionaire I don't see how you can defend a party whose policy benefits benefits the elite over the general populace.’
      • ‘The consequent reduction of the public sector puts even more power in the hands of the corporate elite.’
      • ‘He feared that by endorsing Sinclair he would alienate the banking and industrial elite, which he was attempting to win to the side of his New Deal policies.’
      • ‘Foreign debts have also risen faster than population but most of the cash went into the pockets of a wealthy elite.’
  • 2[mass noun] A size of letter in typewriting, with 12 characters to the inch (about 4.7 to the centimetre).


Late 18th century: from French élite selection, choice, from élire to elect, from a variant of Latin eligere (see elect). elite dates from the early 20th century.