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1. Enough space to move around an area easily. Ugh, the mall is so crowded today that there's hardly any elbow room at all!
2. The freedom and ability to act as one wants. Well, you're her cabinet—if you're worried about her having too much elbow room as student council president, you should impose limitations.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
*some elbow room
Fig. room to move about in; extra space to move about in. (*Typically: allow ~; get ~; have ~; give someone ~; need ~.) This table is too crowded. We all need some elbow room.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Enough space to move about, as in Two hundred on the stage? There won't be any elbow room. This term alludes to having enough room to extend one's elbows. [Late 1500s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. If someone gives you elbow room, they give you the freedom to do what you want to do in a particular situation. He promised governors that he would give them more elbow room to encourage innovation. The decision has allowed us more electoral elbow room and political flexibility.
2. If you have enough elbow room, you have enough space to move freely or feel comfortable, without feeling crowded. There was not much elbow room in the cockpit. To have this much elbow room in London, you would need to be a billionaire.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
1 enough space to move in: October is a good time to visit as there are fewer tourists and more elbow room in the restaurants.
2 the freedom to do something: Teachers often feel they have little elbow room to try new methods.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
Enough space. This metaphor for having enough space to extend one’s elbows has been used since the sixteenth century. “Now my soul hath elbow-room,” wrote Shakespeare (King John, 5.7).
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer