Word Nerd: Elk

This picture, “Handsome Is” by John Dudley, of Gearhart, placed in the top 25 winners of the 2017 Coast Weekend Photo Contest. “A more handsome couple than these two Gearhart elk, photographed at Little Beach, would be hard to find,” Dudley wrote.

Elk [ɛlk]

plural: elk or elks

1. Cervus canadensis: any number of species of large, reddish-brown deer of the family Cervidae native to North America and Eastern Asia. Also known as wapiti, cervus canadensis roosevelti, or Roosevelt Elk, roam Oregon and Washington and are the largest of the different subspecies. Bulls grow large, flat bursts of antler, which they shed annually. Males can weigh north of a ton, while cows generally weigh around 600 pounds. Elk in general are one of the largest land mammals of North America.

2. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks: First established in 1868 by a New York City theater company as a social club for actors. It eventually turned into a fraternal club dedicated to community service and currently has its national headquarters in Chicago. There are local lodges in Astoria, Seaside and Long Beach, Washington, and the organization claims nearly one million members nationwide

From the late Old English elh, eolh or elch. A cognate with the Middle High German elch, all from the Proto-Germanic elkh-, which related to both “deer” as well as a reddish color. Around the late 15th century the consonant H was replaced with a K, forming the modern spelling. The term wapiti is an Americanization of the Shawnee Indian word, waapiti, which was first recorded in 1806 and means “white,” referring to the white rump of the beast. In Britain, the term “elk” actually refers to a moose and was improperly applied to the North American animal by European settlers.

“Warrenton isn’t Gearhart, where elk are the bane of a golf course, a protective mother elk once menaced beachgoers and people have reported being stuck in their homes or threatened in the streets.

But some locals believe the Warrenton herd is turning into a similar problem, growing in size and becoming too comfortable in town. They worry about damage to property and safety on the road.”

— Katie Frankowicz, “Elk concerns on the rise in Warrenton,” ​The Daily Astorian, Feb. 15, 2018

“In celebration of the 150th birthday of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Seaside Lodge will host an open house on Saturday, Feb. 10. All community members and families are invited to visit the lodge, take a tour, watch the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby, enjoy a snack, play a game and meet Elks members.”

— “Anniversary celebration for Elks,” Cannon Beach Gazette, Feb. 6, 2018

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