Difference Wiki

Elan vs. Spirit: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 11, 2023
Elan refers to energetic enthusiasm and flair, while spirit generally denotes the non-physical part of a person or an attitude or sentiment.

Key Differences

Elan describes a lively and enthusiastic manner, often with a sense of flair and confidence. Spirit, in contrast, can refer to the intangible, animating essence of a person, or it can describe a prevailing or typical mood, attitude, or intention.
Elan is usually associated with actions displaying vivacity and vigor, especially in artistic or public performances. Spirit, on the other hand, encompasses a broader range of applications, from describing personal characteristics like courage or determination to the ethos or essence of a group or activity.
The use of elan often implies a stylish, zestful expression in one’s actions or behaviors. Spirit, however, can also refer to a supernatural being or the essence of something abstract, like the spirit of a law.
Elan is typically used to describe human actions or attitudes that are visibly dynamic and engaging. Spirit can describe a deeper, sometimes inherent quality or feeling, like team spirit or the spirit of an age.
Elan often conveys a sense of sophistication and is sometimes associated with artistic or cultural endeavors. Spirit can refer to a fundamental emotional and psychological state, as in being in high spirits or broken-spirited.

Comparison Chart


Energetic enthusiasm and flair
Non-physical part of a person, attitude, or sentiment


Vivacity in actions or performance
Broad range, including mood, ethos, or supernatural


Stylish, zestful expression
Deeper qualities or feelings, sometimes inherent


Describing dynamic human actions
Describing personal characteristics, supernatural beings, essence of concepts


Sophistication, often in arts or culture
Emotional and psychological state, ethos of groups or eras

Elan and Spirit Definitions


Energetic vivacity in style or manner.
The speaker's elan captivated the audience.


The prevailing mood or attitude.
The team's winning spirit was infectious.


Enthusiasm and confidence.
He tackled the project with elan.


The essence or ethos of a thing.
The festival captured the spirit of the community.


A lively spirit of boldness.
Her elan in fashion choices set her apart.


The non-physical part of a person.
They believe the spirit survives after death.


Creative zest or flair.
The chef's dishes are known for their elan.


A supernatural being.
Folk tales often speak of spirits in the woods.


Enthusiastic vigor and liveliness.


A particular emotional state.
Despite setbacks, her spirit remained unbroken.


Distinctive style or flair.


A force or principle believed to animate living beings.


Uncommon spelling of élan


A force or principle believed to animate humans and often to endure after departing from the body of a person at death; the soul.


Ardor inspired by passion or enthusiasm.


Spirit The Holy Spirit.


A feeling of strong eagerness (usually in favor of a person or cause);
They were imbued with a revolutionary ardor
He felt a kind of religious zeal


Distinctive and stylish elegance;
He wooed her with the confident dash of a cavalry officer


Enthusiastic and assured vigor and liveliness;
A performance of great elan and sophistication


What does elan typically describe?

Elan describes a lively and enthusiastic manner with flair.

What does spirit mean in a psychological context?

It refers to an individual's emotional and mental state.

Is elan always visible in behavior?

Typically, yes, as it relates to vivacious and energetic expression.

Can spirit refer to supernatural entities?

Yes, it can refer to supernatural beings like ghosts.

Is elan associated with confidence?

Yes, elan often implies enthusiasm combined with confidence.

Does elan have a cultural connotation?

Yes, it often implies a sense of sophistication in cultural or artistic contexts.

Can spirit be used to describe a law?

Yes, as in the spirit of the law, referring to its underlying intention.

Is spirit related to personality?

Yes, it can describe aspects of a person's character or mood.

Does elan apply to artistic performances?

Yes, performers often exhibit elan in their style.

How is spirit used in sports?

It refers to the ethos or attitude of a team, like team spirit.

Can elan be taught?

It's more of an innate quality, but aspects like confidence can be developed.

Can elan be used to describe a group?

It's typically used to describe individuals' actions or attitudes.

Is elan a common term in everyday language?

It's less common and more often used in specific contexts like the arts.

What’s the spirit of a company?

It refers to the company's prevailing ethos or culture.

Does spirit have religious connotations?

In certain contexts, it can refer to spiritual or religious aspects of life.

Can elan be negative?

Not typically; it's generally seen as a positive attribute.

Can someone lose their spirit?

Yes, in challenging situations, people can feel their spirit diminish.

What does “in good spirits” mean?

It means being in a happy or positive emotional state.

Can spirit change over time?

Yes, as it can be influenced by circumstances and experiences.

Is elan the same as enthusiasm?

It includes enthusiasm but with an added element of style or flair.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons