"a choice or select body, the best part," 1823, from French élite "selection, choice," from Old French eslite (12c.), fem. past participle of elire, elisre "pick out, choose," from Latin eligere "choose" (see election). Borrowed in Middle English as "chosen person" (late 14c.), especially a bishop-elect, but it died out mid-15c. The word was re-introduced by Byron's "Don Juan." As an adjective by 1852. As a typeface, recorded by 1920.
updated on October 10, 2020