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[uh-vast, uh-vahst] /əˈvæst, əˈvɑst/
v. imperative, Nautical
(used as a command to stop or cease):
Avast heaving!
Origin of avast
1675-85; perhaps < Dutch houd vast hold fast (see hold1, fast1) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for avast
Historical Examples
  • avast a bit, cried Bill—I must first fill up a hole in my stomach, big enough to hold a hogshead.

  • avast there, what did you do with the rest of that there keg of powder?

    Hunting the Skipper George Manville Fenn
  • avast pulling,” cried Mudge; “I think I hear the sound of a waterfall.

    Twice Lost W.H.G. Kingston
  • "avast with that nonsense, as they don't say at sea," laughed Ned.

    The Ocean Wireless Boys And The Naval Code John Henry Goldfrap, AKA Captain Wilbur Lawton
  • Take warnin' and avast this cruel piratin' or you'll get it.

    Blackbeard: Buccaneer Ralph D. Paine
  • avast pulling, and let the other boats close up,” he whispered.

    Salt Water W. H. G. Kingston
  • His chief desire with regard to the other people in the play is that they should "belay there, avast!"

    Stage-Land Jerome K. Jerome
  • I said so unto him at after, but all I gat of my noble admiral was “avast there!”

    Joyce Morrell's Harvest Emily Sarah Holt
  • avast heaving,” said Gascoigne, “till I throw her up and take the wind out of it.

    Mr. Midshipman Easy Captain Frederick Marryat
  • avast, old man of war; you must instantly convoy my son from Portsmouth.

    Wild Oats John O'Keeffe
British Dictionary definitions for avast


sentence substitute
(nautical) stop! cease!
Word Origin
C17: perhaps from Dutch hou'vast hold fast
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for avast

1680s, a nautical interjection, "hold! stop!" probably worn down from Dutch houd vast "hold fast."

AVAST. -- The order to stop, or pause, in any exercise or operation; as Avast heaving -- that is to say, desist, or stop, from drawing in the cable or hawser, by means of the capstan &c. [George Biddlecombe, "The Art of Rigging," 1848]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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