A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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Elephant

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 682

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 682

Élephant. n.s. [elephas, Latin.]

  1. The largest of all quadrupeds, of whose sagacity, faithfulness, prudence, and even understanding, many surprising relations are given. This animal is not carnivorous, but feeds on hay, herbs, and all sorts of pulse; and it is said to be extremely long lifed. It is naturally very gentle; but when enraged, no creature is more terrible. He is supplied with a trunk, or long hollow cartilage, like a large trumpet, which hangs between his teeth, and serves him for hands: by one blow with his trunk he will kill a camel or a horse, and will raise a prodigious weight with it. His teeth are the ivory so well known in Europe, some of which have been seen as large as a man's thigh, and a fathom in length. Wild elephants are taken with the help of a female ready for the male: she is confined to a narrow place, round which pits are dug; and these being covered with a little earth scattered over hurdles, the male elephants easily fall into the snare. In copulation the female receives the male lying upon her back; and such is his pudicity, that he never covers the female so long as any one appears in sight. Calmet.

                    He loves to hear,
    That unicorns may be betray'd with trees,
    And bears with glasses, elephants with holes.
    Sh. Jul. Cæs.

    The elephant hath joints, but not for courtesy;
    His legs are for necessity, not flexure.
    Sh. Troil. and Cressida.

  2. Ivory; the teeth of elephants.

    High o'er the gate, in elephant and gold,
    The crowd shall Cæsar's Indian war behold.
    Dryden's Virg.

Sources: Calmet, Antoine Augustin (10) · Dryden, John (691) · Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (41) · Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida (31)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Elephant." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: December 6, 2012. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=12848.


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