‘Moose' vs 'Elk': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on December 1, 2023

Are you looking for an explanation of the difference between 'moose' vs. 'elk?' Read this guide!

Here is an overview, in case you have limited time:

  • 'Moose' is a noun name for a large mammal with long legs, humped shoulders, and road palmated antlers classified in the Alces alces genus and species.
  • 'Elk' is a noun name for a large herd deer-like animal with dark brown to tawny fur belonging to the C. elaphus or C. canadensis family that has large antlers.

The short answer above is just a brief introduction. There is more to learn. So, read this entire guide to find out the exact meanings and differences between these terms.

What is the Difference Between 'Moose' vs. 'Elk?'

'Moose' and 'elk' are similar. However, each term refers to a different animal.

  • A 'moose' is a much larger animal classified as A. alces. Males are larger than females, and they stand six to seven feet tall at the shoulders; they weigh approximately 1,000 pounds.
  • On the other hand, the' elk' is classified as C. elaphus or C. canadensis, and the bull or male 'elk' stands approximately four to five feet tall at the shoulders and weighs around 600 pounds.

So, the 'moose' is nearly double the size of a full-grown 'elk.' Furthermore, these two animals have different natural habitats. The 'elk' is prevalent in central and east Asia, Siberia, and North America, and the 'moose' is found in Eurasia and North America. While they both reside in North America, 'moose' prefer wetter lands than 'elk.'

Another difference between these words is that the plural form of 'moose' is 'moose,' and the plural form of 'elk' is 'elk' or 'elks.'

Definition of 'Moose': What Does 'Moose' Mean?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'moose' as a noun that means:

  • A substantial mammal classified as A. Alces, which has humped shoulders and long legs that lives in northern America, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

It can also mean:

  • A member of the fraternal order called the Loyal Order of Moose

Synonyms and Similar Words to 'Moose'

According to the same source, there are no synonyms for 'moose.'

Definition of 'Elk': What Does 'Elk' Mean?

The same dictionary defines 'elk' as a noun that means:

  • A large deer classified as C. elaphus or C. canadensis prevalent in Europe, Asia, North America, and northwestern Africa with males that have broad antlers that have tines
  • Wapiti or red deer
  • Any variety of Asian deer
  • Tanned, soft, rugged leather
  • A member of the fraternal order known as the Order of Elks

Synonyms and Similar Words to 'Elk'

Due to 'elk' being the name of a specific animal, there are no synonyms for the term.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Moose' vs. 'Elk'

Learning pronunciation is beneficial in several ways. When you learn the correct way to say a term, it is often easier to remember the spelling, meaning, and correct usage.

So, here is a guide you can reference for pronouncing 'moose' vs. 'elk.' 

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'moose':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'elk':


When and How to Use 'Moose' vs. 'Elk'

Now that you know the definitions and pronunciations of 'moose' and 'elk,' here are some tips to help you determine when to use each term.

  • Use 'moose' to describe the larger of the two antlered mammals.

For example, you could say:

When we were on the expedition, the trail guide pointed out an enormous moose.

  • Use 'elk' to describe a deer-like animal that prefers to stay in dry lands and lives in herds.

So, you could say:

The guide pointed out a pack of elk in a clearing. 

  • Use 'Moose' for a member of the Loyal Order of Moose.

As an example, you might hear someone say:

He was a Moose who loved to attend events at his local lodge and help his neighbors when they were in need

  • Use 'Elk' for someone belonging to the Order of Elks.

For example, I might say:

He was an Elk for twenty-five years. 

Sample Sentences Using 'Moose' vs. 'Elk'

Now that you understand how to use these terms and their meanings read these sample sentences using each term. They will help you commit the words to memory.


  • Have you ever seen a moose up close?
  • Do you know that in Alaska and some other northern regions, pilots have to look out for moose that wander onto the runway?
  • That moose we saw on our trip to Canada was one of the biggest animals I have ever seen.
  • He became a Moose when his father inducted him into the secretive, fraternal organization years ago.
  • There are few things scarier than coming face-to-face with a moose that towers over you.


  • The Elk's Club is not open to the public.
  • We thought we saw a deer outside of our window, but it was an elk.
  • The recipe book calls for three pounds of elk meat.
  • I do not want to go elk hunting with my brothers this year.
  • If you are cooking elk chili again, I am going to have dinner at my friend's house tonight.


  • We saw polar bears, brown bears, elk, and moose in Alaska.
  • I was invited to join the group observing moose and elk populations in Canada.
  • Thank goodness we hit a small adolescent female elk and not a full-grown bull moose.

Review the Difference: 'Moose' vs. 'Elk'

You made it to the end of the lesson. However, we covered a ton of information. So, let's quickly recap what you learned about the difference between 'moose' vs. 'elk':

  • A 'moose' is a larger deer-like animal classified as A. alces with humped shoulders and long legs and males with broad antlers. 
  • An 'elk' is a smaller moose-like animal that belongs to the C. canadensis or C. ephalus classification, which has a less pronounced hump on its shoulders and shorter legs.

Similar words like these are often challenging to remember, even after you learn the differences. So, if you ever wonder which of these terms is correct, you can always return to this page to review this lesson.

You can also learn about hundreds of other confusing words here. So, if you have been curious about the meanings of other English terms, check them out before you go.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

Add new comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WritingTips.org Newsletter
Receive information on
new articles posted, important topics, and tips.
Join Now
We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.