Definition of oliphant in US English:


(also olifant, oliphaunt)


historical, archaic
  • 1An elephant.

  • 2A horn or trumpet made of ivory; (Scottish) ivory used to make a horn (obsolete).


Middle English; earliest use found in Layamon (fl. 1250), poet. From Anglo-Norman olifan, olifant, oliphant, ollifaunt, holifaunt and Old French olifan, olifant, oliphant, etc., ivory, musical horn made of ivory, elephant, apparently representing a post-classical Latin variant of classical Latin elephant-, elephantus (also elephans, elephas) elephant. Compare Middle Dutch olifant (Dutch olifant), Old Occitan olifan elephant, Italian olifante musical horn. Compare also Breton olifant elephant, (in plural) ivory, and Welsh † oliffant elephant, ivory, which may be from Middle English or Old French.