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Elfin   /ˈɛlfɪn/   Listen
Elfin

adjective
1.
Suggestive of an elf in strangeness and otherworldliness.  Synonym: fey.  "The fey quality was there, the ability to see the moon at midday"
2.
Small and delicate.  Synonym: elflike.  "Obsessed by things elfin and small"
3.
Relating to or made or done by or as if by an elf.  "All the little creatures joined in the elfin dance"
4.
Usually good-naturedly mischievous.  Synonyms: elfish, elvish.  "Elvish tricks"






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Elfin" Quotes from Famous Books



... Jane see their prayers ascending like thin gold chains, for that was but an elfin fancy, but she imagined clear in her new soul the seraphs passing in the ways of Paradise, and the angels changing guard to watch the World ...
— The Sword of Welleran and Other Stories • Lord Dunsany

... rose from out the bosom of the lake, And Arthur rowed across and took it—rich With jewels, elfin Urim, on the hilt, Bewildering heart and eye—the blade so bright That men are blinded by it—on one side, Graven in the oldest tongue of all this world, "Take me," but turn the blade and ye shall see, And written in the speech ye speak ...
— Selections from Wordsworth and Tennyson • William Wordsworth and Alfred Lord Tennyson

... his face odd, then interesting; now she found it strangely attractive. His eyes, between sandy lashes and under thick sandy brows, were of a sea-blue in colour, his head was covered with a cap of thick, lustreless, sand-coloured hair. Something odd, elfin, whimsical, in his crooked smile lent an actual charm to his face, for Martie at least. She told him he ...
— Martie the Unconquered • Kathleen Norris

... meat in jelly froze! O tender haunch of elfin stag! O rich the odour that arose! O ...
— Collected Poems 1901-1918 in Two Volumes - Volume II. • Walter de la Mare

... suddenly realized how long and weary the road would be for just such a one as the fascinated little figure on the steps, before he could begin to approach that level which, to a society that Caleb understood, was typified by this exquisite, elfin figure, ...
— Then I'll Come Back to You • Larry Evans

... his hand she came down, not upon the step beside him as he meant, but upon her knees before him, with her two little hands upon his knees and her face of elfin beauty upheld ...
— The Maid of the Whispering Hills • Vingie E. Roe

... time he her would kiss She call'd on Mary's son; Then he became a lovely knight, His elfin shape ...
— Ellen of Villenskov - and Other Ballads • Anonymous

... sorely sunk with woe Sir Topaz sees the elfin show, His spirits in him die: When Oberon cries, A man is near, A mortal passion, cleeped fear, Hang's flagging ...
— Poetical Works of Johnson, Parnell, Gray, and Smollett - With Memoirs, Critical Dissertations, and Explanatory Notes • Samuel Johnson, Thomas Parnell, Thomas Gray, and Tobias Smollett

... were two long vermilion clouds. Behind the black hill the sun had shouldered up, molten, and the shadow of Vessons, standing monkey-like on the lowest bar of the gate, lay on the stretch of wet clover behind him—a purple, elfin creature, gifted with a prehensile dignity. The cows did not appear after his first call. He lifted his head and called again in a high plaintive tone, as one reasons with a fretful child. 'Come o-on, come o-on!' Then he sank into the landscape again. After an interval, ...
— Gone to Earth • Mary Webb

... hungry and noisy; and over all, with moonlight calmness and steadiness, Mary Pitkin ruled and presided, dispensing to each his portion in due season, while Diana, restless and mischievous as a sprite, seemed to be possessed with an elfin spirit of drollery, venting itself in sundry little tricks and antics which drew ready laughs from the boys and reproving glances from the deacon. For the deacon was that night in one of his severest humors. As Biah Carter afterwards remarked of that night, "You could feel there was thunder ...
— Betty's Bright Idea; Deacon Pitkin's Farm; and The First Christmas - of New England • Harriet Beecher Stowe

... last descendant, Jean. She bore the name of the Rutherfords, but she was the daughter of their trembling wives. At the first she was not wholly without charm. Neighbours recalled in her, as a child, a strain of elfin wilfulness, gentle little mutinies, sad little gaieties, even a morning gleam of beauty that was not to be fulfilled. She withered in the growing, and (whether it was the sins of her sires or the sorrows ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. XIX (of 25) - The Ebb-Tide; Weir of Hermiston • Robert Louis Stevenson

... never more complete than when they were roaming the woods. In them Easter was at home, and her ardent nature came to the surface like a poetic glow from her buoyant health and beauty. Then appeared all that was wayward and elfin-like in her character, and she would be as playful, wilful, evanescent as a wood-spirit. Sometimes, when they were separated, she would lead him into a ravine by imitating a squirrel or a wild-turkey, and, as he crept noiselessly along ...
— A Mountain Europa • John Fox Jr.

... been said, you know, that all the millions of pins which are lost every year are picked up by fairies and hammered out on elfin anvils into notes of music. There are some who say that this statement must be received with caution, although they admit that the half and quarter notes do bear a very ...
— St. Nicholas, Vol. 5, No. 2, December, 1877 • Various

... her. Time, experience, even the pangs of literary parturition had not writ a single character on that alabaster brow. The very atrophy of the forces of time which she had accomplished by unknown necromancy seemed to endow her with an elfin youth, making her seem smaller, more childlike, more radiantly elusive than when she had worn the poppy ...
— Judith Of The Plains • Marie Manning

... shining stones, and whose firm, but slender bars, were of purest gold.—"Favoured mortal!" (the speaker was beside me)—"favoured beyond even thine own conception, know that thou art permitted to behold the Elfin Paradise—the true, the veritable Fairy Land. Pollute it not by the tone of mortal speech; to us are thy thoughts not unknown, and partially are we permitted to gratify thy desire for information. Thinkest thou—so indeed hath man taught thee—that ...
— The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, Vol. 17, No. - 480, Saturday, March 12, 1831 • Various

... come I to the festival Thou holdest in the regions of romance, Where dragons lurk and elfin spirits dance, And pearls lie hid within each rose petal. What magic changes in life's crystal ball Shall thus transform earth's dullness at thy glance! Ride then the wind, a feather for thy lance, A pool thy sea, thy heaven a waterfall. So shall thy soul to fairy ...
— Eyes of Youth - A Book of Verse by Padraic Colum, Shane Leslie, A.O. • Various

... she paddles in the very noon Of solemn midnight like an elfin thing, Charm'd into being by the argent moon— Whose silver light for love of her fair wing Goes with her in the shade, still worshipping Her dainty plumage:—all around her grew A radiant circlet, like a fairy ring; And all behind, a tiny little clue Of light, ...
— The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood • Thomas Hood

... The elfin cast a glance around, As he lighted down from his courser toad, Then round his breast his wings he wound, And close to the river's brink he strode; He sprang on a rock, he breathed a prayer, Above his head his arm he threw, Then tossed a tiny curve in air, And headlong plunged ...
— Oak Openings • James Fenimore Cooper

... any rate there was no sense in belaboring the point. He turned to the staff. Five of them were the same big-boned heavy-framed type that apparently did most of the manual labor. The sixth, the late arrival, was an elegant creature, a bronze-skinned, green-eyed minx with an elfin face half hidden under a wavy mass of red-brown hair. Unlike the others, she had been docked—and in contrast to their heavy eyes and sleep-puffed features she was alert and lively. She flashed him an impish grin, revealing clean ...
— The Lani People • J. F. Bone

... temperament as well as its appearance. Its movements, its individuality, its posing as a little furry mass of concealed mysteries, its elfin-like elusiveness, all combined to justify its name; and a subtle painter might have pictured it as a wisp of floating smoke, the fire below betraying itself at two points only—the ...
— Three John Silence Stories • Algernon Blackwood

... Toinette set the casement open, and lay a long time waiting and watching; then she fell asleep. She waked with a sneeze and jump and sat up in bed. Behold, on the coverlet stood her elfin friend, with a long train of other elves beside him, all clad in the beetle-wing green, and wearing little pointed caps. More were coming in at the window; outside a few were drifting about in the moon rays, which lit their sparkling robes till ...
— The Children's Book of Christmas Stories • Various

... not one among them had a bottom; owing to which cause the property within was merely, as it were, extinguished. The chest of drawers having been originally made to stand upon the top of another chest, had a dwarfish, elfin look, alone; but in regard of its security it had a great advantage over the bandboxes, for as all the handles had been long ago pulled off, it was very difficult to get at its contents. This indeed ...
— Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit • Charles Dickens

... most horrible confusion by having to turn out again; madly bent upon opening locked doors, and on forcing a passage into all kinds of out-of-the-way places where there is no thoroughfare; sending wild stewards, with elfin hair, to and fro upon the breezy decks on unintelligible errands, impossible of execution: and in short, creating the most extraordinary and bewildering tumult. In the midst of all this, the lazy gentleman, who seems to have no luggage of any kind - not so much as a friend, even - lounges ...
— American Notes for General Circulation • Charles Dickens

... on this subject, as upon most others, a profusion of learning, found the first idea of the elfin people in the Northern opinions concerning the duergar, or dwarfs.[23] These were, however, it must be owned, spirits of a coarser sort, more laborious vocation, and more malignant temper, and in all respects less propitious to humanity, than the fairies (properly ...
— Letters On Demonology And Witchcraft • Sir Walter Scott

... nothing can detract from the inexpressibly quaint spirit of Gipsy originality in which these odd credos are expressed, or surpass the strangeness of the reasons given for them. If the spirit of the goblin and elfin lingers anywhere on earth, ...
— The English Gipsies and Their Language • Charles G. Leland

... four in the morning to open the door for nothing on sea or land or in the waters under the earth. I gave account, also, of the miraculous jumping contest (though I did not mention Miss Apperthwaite's having been with me), and of the elfin voice I had just now ...
— Beasley's Christmas Party • Booth Tarkington

... nestled Tara, a vivid, eager slip of a girl, with wild-rose petals in her cheeks and blue hyacinths in her eyes and sunbeams tangled in her hair, that rippled to her waist in a mass almost too abundant for the small head and elfin face it framed. In temperament, she suggested a flame rather than a flower, this singularly vital child. She loved and she hated, she played and she quarrelled with an intensity, a singleness of ...
— Far to Seek - A Romance of England and India • Maud Diver

... youth with the slowness of his labors and the little progress he had made since she last inspected his work. No wonder that she laughed at the taste of the boy or his employer. Graver heads than hers might question the motive which had set the painter such a model. Imagination suggested that some elfin godmother must have prescribed the task as a condition of her future favor. At all events, the malicious sprite now acting as overseer felt a sense of triumph in this captive boy, perched against the wall, and condemned, ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 13, No. 80, June, 1864 • Various

... looking up thoughtfully to the sky and stars—then his hands dropped on the keys, and he began playing a sad and infinitely lovely movement, which crept gently over the instrument like the calm flow of moonlight over the dark earth. This was followed by a wild, elfin passage in triple time—a sort of grotesque interlude, like the dance of sprites upon the sward. Then came a swift agitato finale—a breathless, hurrying, trembling movement, descriptive of flight, and uncertainty, and vague impulsive terror, which carried us away on its ...
— The Canadian Elocutionist • Anna Kelsey Howard

... and I go in from some ineffectual gymnastics on the lawn to deal with the irruption. There is the usual trouble in connecting up, minute voices in Folkestone and Dover and London call to one another and are submerged by buzzings and throbbings. Then in elfin tones the real message comes through: "Bleriot has crossed the Channel.... An article ... about ...
— An Englishman Looks at the World • H. G. Wells

... down] There is something in her, Nicholas, that one doesn't find in other women, isn't there? An elfin strangeness. [He sighs] Although she is without doubt the richest girl in the country, her mother is so stingy that no one will have her. After her mother's death Sasha will have the whole fortune, but until then she will only give ...
— Ivanoff - A Play • Anton Checkov

... but it is something very like it. Many a time the little girl, who looked up to and admired the big boy who could compel her to anything when he was so minded, would, for her own ends, work on his sense of responsibility, taking an elfin delight in ...
— The Man • Bram Stoker

... are arrested by the appearance of a bright, transparent cloud. It reaches from heaven to earth, and bourne in upon it, with music and with song, are Oberon, Titania, and their elfin train. The cloud parts, and Puck steps forth to ...
— Shakespeare's Christmas Gift to Queen Bess • Anna Benneson McMahan

... came, as I have told you, many of the fairy folk; but more often than any other came a little elfin knight, and he was the young Tamlane, who had been carried away to Fairyland when he was ...
— Stories from the Ballads - Told to the Children • Mary MacGregor

... heavy crop. These include: 2 Walters, 4 O.K. Heart, 1 Canoka, 1 Slioka, 1 Rover, 2 Calendar, 1 Westoka, 1 Nursoka, 1 Aloka, 1 Symoka, 15 select unnamed bearing seedlings, yet on trial. All are promising. Also we have three of the Elfin paper shell heartnut hybrids. I have failed to find a good pollinator for these Elfins, so they are shy croppers, although producing plenty of the female blooms. All of the above trees are 6 inches in diameter and ...
— Northern Nut Growers Association Report of the Proceedings at the 41st Annual Meeting • Various

... so, monsieur the colonel, because I myself have something to say." The little elfin voice disregarded Wachique and the page. They were part of the furniture of the room, and ...
— Old Kaskaskia • Mary Hartwell Catherwood

... this did not affect him, for he supposed his elfin friends had taken the opportunity to rest themselves, but after minutes lengthened into hours he began to be uneasy. What should he do if they never came back? How would he ever find his way out of these caverns? The thought was frightful, and to relieve his fears he began to call. ...
— Prince Lazybones and Other Stories • Mrs. W. J. Hays

... sad, and still ... Stillness, fogged brakes, and fog on high. Only in me the waters cry Who mourn the hours now slipped for ever, Hours of boding, joy, and fever, When we loved, by chance beguiled, I a boy and you a child— Child! but with an angel's air, Astonished, eager, unaware, Or elfin's, wandering with a grace Foreign to any fireside race, And with a gaiety unknown In the light feet and hair backblown, And with a sadness yet more strange, In meagre cheeks which knew to change Or faint or fired ...
— Georgian Poetry 1920-22 • Various

... whole table with his big hand. The surface of the table was covered with powdered chalk that the baronet had dusted over it in the hope of developing criminal finger prints. Now under the drumming of his palm the particles of white dust whirled like microscopic elfin dancers. ...
— The Sleuth of St. James's Square • Melville Davisson Post

... barking and gamboling round her, when the stunted form of Hannah Croneen was seen approaching. Hannah wore her bedgown and her short blue serge petticoat; her legs and feet were bare; the breezes had caught up her short gray locks, and were tossing them wildly about. She looked very elfin and queer as she approached ...
— Light O' The Morning • L. T. Meade

... smile crossed his grim, hard-featured face. He sat down in a low chair near his guest and drew to his side a small table that bore a tray of refreshments. He poured out a glass of wine and held it towards the queer, elfin figure crouched ...
— The Safety Curtain, and Other Stories • Ethel M. Dell

... pronounced it perfect with gay little pats of quaint panniered costumes, fitting of banded sailor hats o'er white coifs, recurling of ringlets, and dainty polishing of slippers. The graceful little figures seemed elfin and fairy-like in the half sleeves and low corsages of tight bodices from which depended enormously full skirts set off by ...
— Orphans of the Storm • Henry MacMahon

... the sunshine In showers; it touches, see, Her high bright cheeks in turning; Ah, Elfin Company, ...
— Poems • G.K. Chesterton

... of heath and bitten furze, Within whose scanty shade, at summer-noon, The mother-sheep hath worn a hollow bed— Ye, that now cool her fleece with dropless damp, Now pant and murmur with her feeding lamb. Chase, chase him, all ye Fays, and elfin Gnomes! With prickles sharper than his darts bemock His little Godship, making him perforce Creep through a thorn-bush on yon ...
— Poems of Coleridge • Coleridge, ed Arthur Symons

... intruder that not only is a weed but looks like one? Why not bee-orchises for wartwort, and gentians for chickweed? I have no fault to find with the foxgloves under the apple-tree or with the ivy-leaved toad-flax that hangs with its elfin flowers from every cranny in the wall. But I protest against the dandelions and the superfluity of groundsel. I undertake that, if rest-harrow and scabious and corn-cockle invade the garden, I shall never use a hoe on them. More than this, if only the ...
— The Pleasures of Ignorance • Robert Lynd

... in the companion bed belonged of right to the moonlight, for it was of quite elfin-like beauty. The child had dropped her cover on the floor, and the moonlight looked in at the naked little limbs. Presently she opened her eyes and looked at the ...
— The Story of an African Farm • (AKA Ralph Iron) Olive Schreiner

... in the air, or little flakes of frost; It seemed 'twas golden smoke around, or sunbeams lightly tossed; It seemed an elfin music like to reeds and warblers rose: "Nay!" Lucy said, "it is the wind that through ...
— Collected Poems 1901-1918 in Two Volumes - Volume II. • Walter de la Mare

... the play that I have stolen. For all the many pleasing esthetic qualities you will find in it—dramatic inventiveness, humor and pathos, eloquence, elfin glamor and the like—you must bless the original author: of these things I have only the usufruct. To me the play owes nothing but the stiffening of civistic conscience that has been crammed in. Modest? Not a bit of it. It is my civistic conscience that makes a man of me and (incidentally) ...
— A Christmas Garland • Max Beerbohm

... language to the supposed intelligence of the seaman, the elfin youth stood listening with intense eagerness and expectation as the other went into the passage, and, by sundry kicks and bumps against wooden walls, gave evidence that he found the channel intricate. Presently a terrible kick occurred. This was the seaman's toe against the ...
— Rivers of Ice • R.M. Ballantyne

... vigorously. She wore no hat and her blond hair was tousled as usual. It seemed impossible for Bet to keep her unruly locks in order at any time, but now as the breeze ruffled it, she looked like some half-wild elfin creature. ...
— The Merriweather Girls and the Mystery of the Queen's Fan • Lizette M. Edholm

... all sorts of humanlike creatures, such as fishermen and sailors meet and marvel at on the sea, and landsmen see outside the elfin mounds. ...
— Weird Tales from Northern Seas • Jonas Lie

... path wound through a forest of fir, where a wood wind wove its murmurous spell and a wood brook dimpled pellucidly among the shadows—the dear, companionable, elfin shadows—that lurked under the low growing boughs. Along the edges of that winding path grew banks of velvet green moss, starred with clusters of pigeon berries. Pigeon berries are not to be eaten. They are woolly, tasteless things. But they are to be looked ...
— The Golden Road • Lucy Maud Montgomery

... large quantity of the herb which in English is called rosemary, in Spanish romero, and in the rustic language of Portugal, alecrim; which last is a word of Scandinavian origin (ellegren), signifying the elfin plant, and was probably carried into the south by the Vandals. The man seemed frantic with terror, and said that the witches had been pursuing him and hovering over his head for the last two leagues. He came from the Spanish frontier with meal and other ...
— The Bible in Spain • George Borrow

... to the ugly brown spiders, and in gentle words told them, how in Fairy Land their kindred spun all the elfin cloth, and in return the Fairies gave them food, and then how happily they lived among the green leaves, spinning garments for their neighbors. "And you too," said she, "shall spin for me, and I ...
— Flower Fables • Louisa May Alcott

... people say!— Would I could find that elfin seed! Then should I win your love, indeed, By being near you night and day— There is no other way, my love, There ...
— Poems • Madison Cawein

... aloft, the tops of the trees, from which the call of the red-headed woodpecker sounded as faint as the memory of a sound and the bark of the squirrels was elfin-thin. A hot crowded land, crammed with undergrowth and overgrowth wherever a woodland stood; and around every woodland dense cornfields; or, denser still, the leagues of swaying hemp. The smell of this now lay heavy on the air, seeming ...
— The Reign of Law - A Tale of the Kentucky Hemp Fields • James Lane Allen

... brown men; but their limbs were oddly swathed in some thin, dirty, white stuff down even to the fingers and feet: I have never seen men so wrapped up before, and women so only in the East. They wore turbans too, and thereunder peered out their elfin faces at me,—faces with protruding lower-jaws and bright eyes. They had lank black hair, almost like horsehair, and seemed as they sat to exceed in stature any race of men I have seen. The white-haired man, who I knew was a good six feet in height, sat a head below any ...
— The Island of Doctor Moreau • H. G. Wells

... an essentially modern-looking couple as they sat there. Tuppence had no claim to beauty, but there was character and charm in the elfin lines of her little face, with its determined chin and large, wide-apart grey eyes that looked mistily out from under straight, black brows. She wore a small bright green toque over her black bobbed hair, and her extremely ...
— The Secret Adversary • Agatha Christie

... the powdered firs were dreaming of a spring to come and a joy to be. The long hill beyond was richly purple with leafless beeches. The rosy light of sunset lay over the world like a pink kiss. Of all the airy, fairy places, full of weird, elfin grace, Rainbow Valley that winter evening was the most beautiful. But all its dreamlike loveliness was lost on poor, ...
— Rainbow Valley • Lucy Maud Montgomery

... hush of the quiet eves, When the gloaming stole through the silent wood, And the low-toned zephyrs that stirred the leaves Were like elfin harps in the solitude. ...
— Lays from the West • M. A. Nicholl

... storms, no clouds, in thy blue sky foreseeing, Play on, play on, My elfin John! Toss the light ball, bestride the stick,— (I knew so many cakes would make him sick!) With fancies buoyant as the thistle-down, Prompting the face grotesque, and antic brisk, With many a lamb-like frisk! (He's got the scissors snipping ...
— Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 6 • Charles H. Sylvester

... finger-tip caress in rhythmic vibrations that became whisperings and rustlings and mutterings of sound—but of sound so different; so elusively thin that it was shimmeringly sibilant; so mellow that it was maddening sweet, piping like an elfin horn, which last was just what Bassett decided would be like a peal from some bell of the gods reaching ...
— The Red One • Jack London

... mouths his words at earless owls, Past ribboned dusk and pillared woe, Where sonless maids their sorrows heal, And mixes purple mists with light, Both moaning airs and cringing howls, The swirling skelp that heavens show, And changes this vast plane of weal, This kingdom's tomb of rasping night To elfin cheer as dances bloom, And speeds his flight from Terror's urn, Past jasper lanes where moonstones glow, And turns his eyes at writhing Hell, Upon the spectral haunts of Doom, Where fiends in hissing Cesspoles burn 'Mid howls of pain from vassals flow That rake ...
— Betelguese - A Trip Through Hell • Jean Louis de Esque

... stalks, a sable shade Of death, while, jingling like the elfin train, In silver samite knight and dame and maid Ride to the tourney on the barrier'd plain; And he must bow in humble mute disdain, And that worst woe of baffled souls endure, To see the evil that ...
— The Visions of England - Lyrics on leading men and events in English History • Francis T. Palgrave

... other was warm with the light which poured upon it. The Gothic spires, the Moorish domes, the weird and mysterious caves, which last night had given more than a touch of awe to her majestic bedchamber, now looked a good deal less like the ruins of mediaeval castles and the homes of elfin sprites ...
— Brand Blotters • William MacLeod Raine

... back to those hazy fields that all poets know, wherein stand small mysterious cottages through whose windows, looking westwards, you may see the fields of men, and looking eastwards see glittering elfin mountains, tipped with snow, going range on range into the region of Myth, and beyond it into the kingdom of Fantasy, which pertain to the ...
— Selections from the Writings of Lord Dunsay • Lord Dunsany

... not leave him in his wandering To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies, Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing? Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car, And driven the Hamadryad from the wood 10 To seek a shelter in some happier star? Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood, The Elfin from the green grass, and from me The ...
— Selections From Poe • J. Montgomery Gambrill

... dive in storm-vext seas, if but one pearl Of art or beauty therefrom may be wrung. No pure-browed pensive nymph his Muse shall be, An amazon of thought with sovereign eyes, Whose kiss was poison, man-brained, worldly-wise, Inspired that elfin, delicate harmony. Rich gain for us! But with him is it well? The poet who must ...
— The Poems of Emma Lazarus - Vol. I (of II.), Narrative, Lyric, and Dramatic • Emma Lazarus

... of relief, one finishes a long day's run, thinking it will suffice for many a day to come; the evening is scarce over before elfin suggestions of possible rides for the morrow are floating about in the air, and when morning comes the automobile is taken out,—very much as the toper who has sworn off the night before takes his morning dram,—it just ...
— Two Thousand Miles On An Automobile • Arthur Jerome Eddy

... touches one and makes him both glad and sad! The voices of the arriving birds, the migrating fowls, the clouds of pigeons sweeping across the sky or filling the woods, the elfin horn of the first honey-bee venturing abroad in the middle of the day, the clear piping of the little frogs in the marshes at sundown, the camp-fire in the sugar-bush, the smoke seen afar rising over the trees, the tinge of green that comes so suddenly ...
— Our Friend John Burroughs • Clara Barrus

... snow fell softly, softly; and the bare trees shook their branches in the keen air. The pleasant glow of the blazing logs lighted up the circle of happy faces, and peopled the distant corners with elfin shadows. ...
— Soap-Bubble Stories - For Children • Fanny Barry

... punctual stars. Huge whitened hills Rise glimmering to the blue verge of the night, Ghostlike, and striped with narrow glens of firs Black-waving, solemn. O'er the Luggie-stream Gathers a veiny film of ice, and creeps With elfin feet around each stone and reed, Working fine masonry; while o'er the dam, Dashing, a noise of waters fills the clear And nitrous air. All the dark, wintry hours Sharply the winds from the white level moors Keen whistle. Timorous in his homely bed The school-boy listens, fearful ...
— In The Yule-Log Glow, Vol. IV (of IV) • Harrison S. Morris

... the composer as requiring advanced technique for performance, are full of poetical thought and tonal beauty that make them worthy of study. Many of them possess that Nature tone painting, that mystic, subtle romanticism of whispering tree-tops and elfin glades, that freshness and open air spirit which distinguish MacDowell's ...
— Edward MacDowell • John F. Porte

... no care of their clothes, and they never keep to the same fashions a month. I work for a doll with three daughters. Bless you, she's enough to ruin her husband!' The person of the house gave a weird little laugh here, and gave them another look out of the corners of her eyes. She had an elfin chin that was capable of great expression; and whenever she gave this look, she hitched this chin up. As if her eyes and her chin worked ...
— Our Mutual Friend • Charles Dickens

... possibility questioned, he felt a disagreeable conviction of its inevitableness. Mrs. Dressel's view was of course absurd. In spite of Justine's feminine graces, he had formerly felt in her a kind of elfin immaturity, as of a flitting Ariel with untouched heart and senses: it was only of late that she had developed the subtle quality which calls up thoughts of love. Not marry? Why, the vagrant fire had just lighted on her—and ...
— The Fruit of the Tree • Edith Wharton

... find the same elfin revelry, the same masks, the same music. We seat ourselves, as before, under a gauze tent and sip odd little drinks tasting of flowers. But this evening we are alone, and the absence of the band of mousmes, whose ...
— Madame Chrysantheme • Pierre Loti

... far down as his knee; his legs were bare. Around his sombrero, or shadowy hat, was tied a large quantity of the herb called in English rosemary, in Spanish romero, and in the rustic language of Portugal ellecrin, which last is a word of Scandinavian origin, and properly signifies the elfin plant. [It was probably] carried into the south by the Vandals or the Alani. The [man seemed] frantic with terror, and said that the witches had been pursuing him, and hovering over his head, for the last ...
— Letters of George Borrow - to the British and Foreign Bible Society • George Borrow

... air was stirring, and darkness brought forth a torment of mosquitoes. As day died, the woods awoke to sounds of bird and insect life; strange, raucous calls pealed forth, some familiar, others strange and unaccustomed. There were thin whistlings, hoarse grunts and harsh cacklings, high-pitched elfin laughter. Moving bodies disturbed the leaves overhead; from all sides came the rustle and stir of unseen creatures; sudden disputations were followed by startled silences. Sitting there in the dark, bedeviled by a pest of insects, mocked at by these mysterious voices, and ...
— Rainbow's End • Rex Beach

... wonder-whist, How from the atmosphere a mist, So it seemed, slow uprist; And, looking from those elfin swarms, I was 'ware How the air Was all populous with forms Of the Hours, floating down, Like Nereids through a watery town. Some, with languors of waved arms, Fluctuous oared their flexile way; Some were borne half resupine ...
— Sister Songs • Francis Thompson

... thro' the city's tumult and the beat Of hurrying feet, Those whom the god loves hear Pan's pipe, insistent, clear; Echoes of elfin laughter, high and sweet; Catch in the sparrows' cries Those tinkling melodies That sing where brooklets meet, And the wood's glamour colours the ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 152, June 20, 1917 • Various

... and on. The blue, sunlit arch overhead, the waving trees that sent dancing shadows like troops of elfin sprites over the water, the fret in one place where a rock broke the murmurous lapping, the swish somewhere else, where grasses and weeds and water blooms rooted in the sedge rocked back and forth with the slow ...
— A Little Girl in Old Detroit • Amanda Minnie Douglas

... head promptly with a faint echo of the elfin laughter that had so maddened him a little earlier. "No, I won't promise. But I'll show you where I was hiding if you ...
— Charles Rex • Ethel M. Dell

... all the day; my last, the wife of the Japanese Consul, who brought with her two children. They were like little butterflies, dressed in their gay kimonas and bright red obis, their straight black hair framing their tiny elfin faces. I was delighted and could scarcely let them go. Their mother says she will send to me their photographs, and I will send them to thee, as they seem children from another world. They are much prettier, in my eyes, than the foreign children, with their white hair and colourless, blue ...
— My Lady of the Chinese Courtyard • Elizabeth Cooper

... appendices to Scott's works are stored with material for novels of terror. The notes to Marmion, for instance, contain references to a necromantic priest whose story "much resembles that of Ambrosio in the Monk," to an "Elfin" warrior and to a chest of treasure jealously guarded for a century by the Devil in the likeness of a huntsman. In The Lady of the Lake there is a note on the ancient legend of the Phantom Sire, in Rokeby there is an allusion to the Demon Frigate wandering under ...
— The Tale of Terror • Edith Birkhead

... about to be opened to him. It seemed to him that he heard notes of fitful music leaping upwards a tone and downwards a diminished fourth, upwards a tone and downwards a major third, like triple-branching flames leaping fitfully, flame after flame, out of a midnight wood. It was an elfin prelude, endless and formless; and, as it grew wilder and faster, the flames leaping out of time, he seemed to hear from under the boughs and grasses wild creatures racing, their feet pattering like rain upon the leaves. Their feet passed ...
— A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man • James Joyce

... grass, Fifer in the dun cuirass, Fifing shrilly in the morn, Shrilly still at eve unworn; Now to rear, now in the van, Gayest of the elfin clan: Though I watch their rustling flight, I can never guess aright Where their lodging-places are; 'Mid some daisy's golden star, Or beneath a roofing leaf, Or in fringes of a sheaf, Tenanted as soon ...
— Modern Prose And Poetry; For Secondary Schools - Edited With Notes, Study Helps, And Reading Lists • Various

... wrote with an elfin mockery. Her brilliant eye of youth saw through the inconsistency of the beliefs he strove to reconcile. She learned his lore, read his books, and ...
— The Thing from the Lake • Eleanor M. Ingram

... is it for those timid few who, frightened at the long tail, scamper away from the intruder; for, when allowed to mingle in the sport, he suddenly seizes the fairest child, and hurries away to make a dainty meal off him with his little wives in elfin-land. To the Indian men the fairies profess a real friendship; and when they meet one near their dwellings they invite him in and feast him, and press him to stay all night. He invariably declines the polite invitation ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 18, No. 106, August, 1866 • Various

... we find Oberon, the Elfin-king in deep melancholy, which no gaiety of his subjects, however charming, avails to remove. He has quarrelled with his wife Titania, and both have vowed never to be reconciled, until they find a pair of lovers, faithful to each other in all kinds of ...
— The Standard Operaglass - Detailed Plots of One Hundred and Fifty-one Celebrated Operas • Charles Annesley

... Those elfin steps their music moves no more Beneath light domes to tune the festal train, Nor at the moony eves along the shore To brim with fairy ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XI., February, 1863, No. LXIV. • Various

... down in the valley—a cuckoo called. Out of the depths floated the elfin halloo, the gaily malicious challenge of spring herself, shouted up melodiously from the plains of Alsace—Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!—You poor, sullen, frozen foreigner up there on ...
— Barbarians • Robert W. Chambers

... builder's most rare device Could match this winter palace of ice; 'T was as if every image that mirrored lay In his depths serene through the summer day, Each fleeting shadow of earth and sky, Lest the happy model should be lost. Sad been mimicked in fairy masonry By the elfin builders of ...
— The World's Best Poetry Volume IV. • Bliss Carman

... now the Lily pale Transparent grace thy beauties meek; Yet ere again along the impurpling vale, The purpling vale and elfin-haunted grove, 105 Young Zephyr his fresh flowers profusely throws, We'll tinge with livelier hues thy cheek; And, haply, from the nectar-breathing Rose Extract a Blush ...
— The Complete Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Vol I and II • Samuel Taylor Coleridge

... Again, the wicked fairies are apt to carry off men's wives with them to fairyland; but the lost spouses can be recovered within a year and a day when the procession of the fairies is defiling past on Hallowe'en, always provided that the mortals did not partake of elfin food while they were ...
— Balder The Beautiful, Vol. I. • Sir James George Frazer

... that his mother was a Cornish woman. Whence came the intense glowing imagination of the Brontes—so unlike the Miss-Austen-like calm of their predecessors? Again, I only know that their mother was a Cornish woman. Whence came this huge elfin creature, George Borrow, with his eagle head perched on his rocklike shoulders, brown-faced, white-headed, a king among men? Where did he get that remarkable face, those strange mental gifts, which place him by himself in literature? Once ...
— Through the Magic Door • Arthur Conan Doyle

... dragon," said Elfin. "You went out at the wrong time of day. The dragon should be hunted ...
— The Book of Dragons • Edith Nesbit

... that Thomas of Erceldoun is not dead, but that he is sleeping beneath the Eildon Hills, in Scotland. One day, he met with a lady of elfin race beneath the Eildon tree, and she led him to an under-ground region, where he remained for seven years. He then revisited the earth, but bound himself to return when summoned. One day, when he was making merry with his friends, he was told that a hart and hind were parading ...
— Character Sketches of Romance, Fiction and the Drama, Vol 1 - A Revised American Edition of the Reader's Handbook • The Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D.

... silhouette upon a panel of palms and tree-ferns. I see the silhouette grow tall and straight again before my eyes, the door open, and Raffles listening with an alert lift of the head. I, too, hear something, an elfin hiss, a fairy fusillade, and then the sudden laugh with which Raffles rejoined us in the body ...
— Mr. Justice Raffles • E. W. Hornung

... "Hark!'tis an elfin-storm from faery land, Of haggard seeming, but a boon indeed: Arise—arise! the morning is at hand;— The bloated wassailers will never heed:— Let us away, my love, with happy speed; There are no ears to hear, or eyes to see,— Drowned all in Rhenish and the sleepy mead: Awake! arise! ...
— Six Centuries of English Poetry - Tennyson to Chaucer • James Baldwin

... through the uneven lanes of the country. Ursula nestled near him, into his constant warmth, and watched the pale-lit revelation racing ahead, the visible night. Sometimes it was a wide old road, with grass-spaces on either side, flying magic and elfin in the greenish illumination, sometimes it was trees looming overhead, sometimes it was bramble bushes, sometimes the walls of a crew-yard and ...
— Women in Love • D. H. Lawrence

... was agreed; and the Elfin King went to a golden chest whence he took a phial that was filled with a blood-red liquor. And with this liquor he anointed the ears and the eyelids, the nostrils, the lips, and the finger-tips of the bodies of Burd Helen's two brothers that lay as ...
— English Fairy Tales • Flora Annie Steel

... even now she might have had good reason to execrate the wearer of the wreath; for she alone, not Lienhard, was the sole cause of her misfortune. Her prayer on the rope that the saints would destroy the hated child, and the idea which then occupied her mind, that she was really a grown maiden, whose elfin delicacy of figure was due to her being one of the fays or elves mentioned in the fairy tales, had made a deep ...
— Uarda • Georg Ebers

... the tiny rhythm of an elfin bass-drum. "O.S. O.S." Click. Click. Click-click-click. Mechanically responsive to his office he answered, and for a moment was concerned with some message about a local freight. When he raised his face again, Miss Van Arsdale read there a sick ...
— Success - A Novel • Samuel Hopkins Adams

... the wayward elfin spirit, if we may so term it, throughout his career. His fairy gifts are of no avail at school, academy, or college: they unfit him for close study and practical science, and render him heedless of everything that does not address itself to his poetical imagination, and genial and festive feelings; ...
— Henry Esmond; The English Humourists; The Four Georges • William Makepeace Thackeray

... snow-tipped, far in the southern sky, and softening the rugged faces of the nearer range, black with their clustering beard of spruce and pine. The band played sweetly on the broad parade until after the tattoo drums had echoed over the plains and the garrison belles strolled aimlessly in the elfin light—all nature so lavishly inviting, yet so little valued now that nearly every man was gone. Out in the camp of "C" Troop men were flitting swiftly to and fro, horses were starting and stamping at ...
— Warrior Gap - A Story of the Sioux Outbreak of '68. • Charles King

... joys that ring Through the green deeps of leafy spring; I know the elfin cups and domes That are their small ...
— Poems: New and Old • Henry Newbolt

... the ground beneath them, and the grass was lush and long like fine green hair, and crept up the hillside and over the roots of the maple and basswood trees. Here lived the elves; she knew them well, and often lay with her head among the violets, listening for the thin sound of their elfin fiddles. Often she had drowsed the summer noon in the coolness, unheeding the dinner call, until busy Martha roused her with the sisterly scolding she knew she deserved ...
— The Eye of Dread • Payne Erskine

... head on his breast, and through her sobs she spoke "Oh, take me from this evil place, and from the elfin folk, ...
— The Complete Works of Whittier - The Standard Library Edition with a linked Index • John Greenleaf Whittier

... moon shone; the wild spiraea sent forth its odor from the road side; steam ascended from the moor-lands; and the white mist floated over the meadows like the daughters of the elfin king. ...
— O. T. - A Danish Romance • Hans Christian Andersen

... elfin grin crept over the little con-man's face. "Well, at any rate, I'm glad they sent you over," he said weakly. "Nothing like a good ...
— Letter of the Law • Alan Edward Nourse

... congratulating myself on the possession of the buffalo-robe. That would go far towards the disguise; but other articles were wanting to complete my costume. The leggings and moccasins—the plumed head-dress and neck ornaments—the long elfin locks—the bronze complexion of arms and breast—the piebald face of chalk, charcoal, and vermilion—where were all these to be obtained? There was no costumerie in ...
— The War Trail - The Hunt of the Wild Horse • Mayne Reid

... and with the movement of her coming, one small breast showing and hiding among the ragged covert of the laces. At that ambiguous hour, and coming as she did from the great silence of the forest, the man drew back from the Princess as from something elfin. ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 7 (of 25) • Robert Louis Stevenson

... see it who will simply read "Grimm's Fairy Tales" or the fine collections of Mr. Andrew Lang. For the pleasure of pedantry I will call it the Doctrine of Conditional Joy. Touchstone talked of much virtue in an "if"; according to elfin ethics all virtue is in an "if." The note of the fairy utterance always is, "You may live in a palace of gold and sapphire, if you do not say the word 'cow'"; or "You may live happily with the King's daughter, if you ...
— Orthodoxy • G. K. Chesterton

... and a rumbling there is in the elfin hill," said one of the lizards; "I have not been able to close my eyes for two nights on account of the noise; I might just as well have had the toothache, for that always keeps ...
— Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen • Hans Christian Andersen

... embodied at all; at any rate, only substantial enough to put forth her slender fingers to be grasped, and to speak with a shrill, yet sweet, tenuity of voice. Really, I do not see how Mr. Browning can suppose that he has an earthly wife any more than an earthly child; both are of the elfin race, and will flit away from him some day when he least thinks of it. She is a good and kind fairy, however, and sweetly disposed towards the human race, although only remotely akin to it. It is wonderful to see how small she is, how pale ...
— Passages From the French and Italian Notebooks, Complete • Nathaniel Hawthorne

... face, one night, when Heaven seemed resting, Against the troubled fever of the earth; I dreamed that vivid throated birds were nesting, In trees that shook with elfin-hearted mirth. I dreamed that star-like purple flowers were springing A-throb with perfume all about the place, And that there was a far-off sound of singing— And then—I dreamed ...
— Cross Roads • Margaret E. Sangster

... into pearl that rosy bar, Sail its own soul from fairy fringe to fringe, Lured by the twinkling prey 'twas born to reach In its own pool, by many an elfin beach Of jewels, adventuring far Through the last mirrored cloud and sunset-tinge And past the rainbow-dripping cave where lies The dark green pirate-crab ...
— Collected Poems - Volume Two (of 2) • Alfred Noyes

... to nothing, to what you call cosmic rays. And these are too weak to maintain my life. No, I must die. And then my poor robot will be alone." I sensed elfin amusement in that last thought. "It seems absurd to you that I should think affectionately of a machine. But in our world there is a rapport—a mental symbiosis—between robot and ...
— Where the World is Quiet • Henry Kuttner

... the time is come: with southward speed The elfin spirits pass: a secret sting Hath fallen and smitten flower and fruit and weed, And every leafy thing. The wet woods moan: the dead leaves break and fall; In still night-watches wakeful men have heard The muffled pipe of many a ...
— Among the Millet and Other Poems • Archibald Lampman

... foxglove blazed like pillars of fire through the shadowy underwood and the woodbine flaunted its tall head proudly among the leaves. A gentle breeze rustled the fern, and breathed upon the quaking grass, setting its beautiful spikelets in motion until they seemed like fairy bells rung by elfin fingers. The flutter and hum of the wild things served but to intensify the stillness ...
— In Doublet and Hose - A Story for Girls • Lucy Foster Madison

... whenas the elfin knight Approached, him seemed that the merry sound Of a shrill pipe, he playing heard on height, And many feet fast thumping the hollow ground, That through the woods their echo did rebound; He nigher drew to wit what it mote be. There he a troop of ladies dancing found Full merrily and making ...
— Among My Books • James Russell Lowell

... And they who are meant to take and to keep the spirit of a dream, whether it be hidden in a poem, or held in the cup of a flower, or enfolded in arms of stone, will surely never miss it, even though they can hear roaring loudly above its elfin voice the cry of directed waters ...
— The Spell of Egypt • Robert Hichens

... fact that, as churches increase, dwarfs and elfin-folk diminish; so, at last, when the town of Kaboutermannekensburg was founded, and a church built, the Kaboutermanneken was fairly driven to the wall, or, rather, into the ground, where he lived in the bowels of the earth, and only appeared at intervals of a hundred years. But, upon the last ...
— St. Nicholas Magazine for Boys and Girls, V. 5, April 1878 - Scribner's Illustrated • Various

... winds to nowhere, The pilgrim listens, as the night air brings The murmured echo, perpetual, from the gorge Of barren rock far down the valley. Now, Though twilight here, it may be starlight there; Mist makes elfin lakes in the hollow fields; The dark wood stands in the mist like a somber island With one red star above it.... "This I should see, Should I go on, follow the falling road,— This I have often seen.... But I shall stay Here, where the ancient milestone, like a watchman, Lifts ...
— American Poetry, 1922 - A Miscellany • Edna St. Vincent Millay

... like elfin pipings, with sharp pitches and excited shrillnesses, to which Dick and Paula lent delighted ears, till, suddenly, with the abruptness of the trump of doom, all the microphonic chorus of the tiny golden lovers was swept away, obliterated, in a Gargantuan blast of sound—no less wild, no less ...
— The Little Lady of the Big House • Jack London

... intercourse. Her beauty was illumined by the awakened soul within, as some rosy lamp might shine through a flawless vase of alabaster. There were hours when Anne's eyes seemed to ache with the splendor of her. As for Owen Ford, the "Margaret" of his book, although she had the soft brown hair and elfin face of the real girl who had vanished so long ago, "pillowed where lost Atlantis sleeps," had the personality of Leslie Moore, as it was revealed to him in those halcyon days ...
— Anne's House of Dreams • Lucy Maud Montgomery

... direction, and above lights were ascending and descending from landing to landing. I obtained a confused glimpse of vast masses of architecture—columns, arcades, flights of steps, stairways—a royal voluptuousness and elfin magnificence of construction worthy of fairyland. A negro page—the same who had before brought me the tablet from Clarimonde, and whom I instantly recognised—approached to aid me in dismounting, and the ...
— Clarimonde • Theophile Gautier

... mightiest chiefs of British song Scorned not such legends to prolong: They gleam through Spenser's elfin dream, And mix in Milton's heavenly theme; And Dryden, in immortal strain, Had raised the Table Round again, But that a ribald king and court Bade him toil on, to make them sport; Demanded for their niggard pay, Fit for their souls, a looser lay, Licentious satire, song, and ...
— Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field • Walter Scott

... speckled toad hopped and hobbled and scrambled from their path; a tiny snake, green as the grass blades that it stirred, slipped from a pool of moonlight into a lake of shadow. Somewhere a small owl, tremulously melodious, called and called: and from the salt meadows, distantly, the elfin ...
— Athalie • Robert W. Chambers

... there were other kinds in Elfin Land; some living in the woods, some in the sand-dunes, but those called Staalkaars, or elves of the stall, were Old Styf's particular friends. These lived in stables and among the cows. The Moss Maidens, that could do anything with leaves, even ...
— Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folks • William Elliot Griffis

... and put him to great shame, he took him to the river, and after washing him clean and combing his hair gave him a change of raiment and a hair string of exceeding great magic virtue, since when he had bound it on he became a Mikumwess, having all the power of the elfin-world. And also because he desired to excel in singing and music, the Master gave him a small pipe, and it was that which charmed all living beings; [Footnote: The identity of these incidents with those of "classic" times is worth noting. There is a lustration and ...
— The Algonquin Legends of New England • Charles Godfrey Leland



Words linked to "Elfin" :   small, little, elflike, supernatural, elvish, elf, fey, playful, elfish



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