Meaning of “element” in the English Dictionary

"element" in British English

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uk /ˈel.ɪ.mənt/ us /ˈel.ə.mənt/

element noun (PART)

B2 [ C ] a part of something:

List the elements that make up a perfect dinner party.
The movie had all the elements of a good thriller.
We weren't even taught the elements of (= basic information about) physics at school.

More examples

  • subversive elements in society
  • All these different political elements have somehow been yoked together to form a new alliance.
  • They've introduced all sorts of new elements to that programme in order to broaden its appeal.
  • Reactionary elements in the industry are preventing its progress towards greater efficiency.
  • The television adverts were, of course, an important element of the campaign.

element noun (AMOUNT)

an element of sth

More examples

  • There's always an element of subjectivity in decision-making.
  • There's an element of calculation in his behaviour that makes me distrust him.
  • There's always an element of sexual innuendo in our conversations.
  • I detected an element of envy in what he said.
  • There was possibly an element of truth in her accusations.

C2 a small amount of an emotion or quality:

There was certainly an element of truth in what she said.
Don't you think there's an element of jealousy in all of this?
We walked quietly up to the door to preserve the element of surprise.

(Definition of “element” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"element" in American English

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elementnoun [ C ]

us /ˈel·ə·mənt/

element noun [ C ] (PART)

one of the parts of something that makes it work, or a quality that makes someone or something effective:

the heating element of a toaster
Having a second income is an important element for most home buyers.
They had all the elements of a great team.

element noun [ C ] (AMOUNT)

a small amount or degree:

There was an element of truth in what she said, but it was an exaggeration.

element noun [ C ] (SUBSTANCE)

chemistry, physics a substance that cannot be reduced to smaller chemical parts and that has an atom different from that of any other substance


(Definition of “element” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)