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[kav, kahv] /kæv, kɑv/
verb (used without object), calved, calving.
to give birth to a calf:
The cow is expected to calve tomorrow.
(of a glacier, an iceberg, etc.) to break up or splinter so as to produce a detached piece.
verb (used with object), calved, calving.
to give birth to (a calf).
(of a glacier, an iceberg, etc.) to break off or detach (a piece):
The glacier calved an iceberg.
Origin of calve
before 1000; Middle English calven, Old English (Anglian) *calfian, derivative of calf calf1; cognate with Old English (West Saxon) cealfian Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for calve
  • The cows were inseminated this spring and should calve this coming winter.
  • We board a fishing boat and tour some bergs, hoping to see one calve.
  • Because it rests entirely on land, it isn't vulnerable to the influxes of warming ocean water that cause outlet glaciers to calve.
  • They had been expecting the glacier to calve, but this piece is much larger than anyone had anticipated.
  • Each day slabs of ice more than a half mile high calve off its face, float down the fjord, and eventually drift out to sea.
  • Sometimes pieces of glacier calve under water, making the ice shoot up to the surface.
  • One last major calve, digitally preserved after its four century journey to the sea.
  • Or take your kayak to the bay and observe some of the tidewater glaciers as they calve and roll.
  • Mothers calve, with a single offspring, about once every five years.
British Dictionary definitions for calve


to give birth to (a calf)
(of a glacier or iceberg) to release (masses of ice) in breaking up
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 calve

Old English cealfian, from cealf "calf" (see calf (n.1)). Of icebergs, 1837. Related: Calved; calving.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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