What exactly is an elk? It depends on who you ask, and where you are.

Elk derives from an Old Norse word for the animal Americans call a "moose" (Alces alces). But when European settlers first arrived in the New World, they erroneously applied the label "elk" to the large North American deer they found, when in actuality, those deer were the same species as the European animal known as "red deer" (Cervus elaphus).

To this day, the same animal known as "elk" or "wapiti" (the Native American term) in North America is known as "red deer" in Europe, while the different animal known as "elk" in Europe, is known as "moose" in North America ("moose" also being a Native American term).

Elk (?), n. [Icel. elgr; akin to Sw. elg, AS. eolh, OHG. elaho, MHG. elch, cf. L. alces; perh. akin to E. eland.] Zool.

A large deer, of several species. The European elk (Alces machlis or Cervus alces) is closely allied to the American moose. The American elk, or wapiti (Cervus Canadensis), is closely related to the European stag. See Moose, and Wapiti.

Irish elk Paleon., a large, extinct, Quaternary deer (Cervus giganteus) with widely spreading antlers. Its remains have been found beneath the peat of swamps in Ireland and England. See Illustration in Appendix; also Illustration of Antler. -- Cape elk Zool., the eland.


© Webster 1913.

Elk, Elke (?), n. Zool.

The European wild or whistling swan (Cygnus ferus).


© Webster 1913.

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