Here are the two sentences:
1.He pushed his way to the front of the crowd.
2.He elbowed his way to the front of the crowd.
Is the phrase 'pushed his way' the same meaning as 'elbowed his way' here?
Thank you very much
Almost always. I suppose someone with no elbows would have to use (1).
The way I hear it, there are two differences. One is very slight, and to do with politeness. 'Pushing your way to the front' is a bit rude; but 'Elbowing your way' is ruder. I've heard a mother at a Punch and Judy show telling her child 'Push your way to the front'; she wouldn't have said 'elbow...'.
The other is to do with usage. 'Pushing your way somewhere' can be figurative; 'elbowing your way' would be unusual in a figurative context.
"Elbowing your way" implies that it is more crowded than it is if you only "pushed your way." When you use your elbows, it's mainly a defensive move; the crowd is pressing too tightly against you, and your arms are almost trapped at your side. You manage to bend them enough to use your elbows give yourself some space.
Using your elbows to move foreward through a crowd is more aggressive than just pushing...getting poked with an elbow hurts more.