a wedge-shaped block fastened to a surface to serve as a check or support: He nailed cleats into the sides of the bookcase to keep the supports from slipping.
a strip of metal, wood, or the like, fastened across a surface, as a ramp or gangway, to provide sure footing or to maintain an object in place.
a strip of wood, metal, etc., fastened across a surface, as of a plank or series of adjacent planks, for strength or support.
a conical or rectangular projection, usually of hard rubber, or a metal strip with sharp projections, built into or attached to the sole of a shoe to provide greater traction.
a shoe fitted with such projections.
a metal plate fastened to the sole or heel of a shoe, to protect against wear.
Shipbuilding. a hook-shaped piece of metal supporting a small structural member.
Also called belaying cleat. Nautical. an object of wood or metal having one or two projecting horns to which ropes may be belayed, especially as fixed to the deck, bulkhead, or stanchion of a vessel.
the cleavage plane of coal as found in a mine.
verb (used with object)
to supply or strengthen with cleats; fasten to or with a cleat.

1350–1400; Middle English clete wedge, cognate with Old High German klōz lump, ball, Dutch kloot; akin to clot Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cleat (kliːt)
1.  a wedge-shaped block, usually of wood, attached to a structure to act as a support
2.  a device consisting of two hornlike prongs projecting horizontally in opposite directions from a central base, used for securing lines on vessels, wharves, etc
3.  a short length of angle iron used as a bracket
4.  a piece of metal, leather, etc, attached to the sole of a shoe to prevent wear or slipping
5.  a small triangular-shaped nail used in glazing
6.  any of the main cleavage planes in a coal seam
7.  to supply or support with a cleat or cleats
8.  to secure (a line) on a cleat
[C14: of Germanic origin, compare Old High German chlōz clod, lump, Dutch kloot ball]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. *cleat "a lump," from W.Gmc. *klaut "firm lump." Originally a wedge of wood bolted to a spar, etc., to keep it from slipping. Meaning "thin metal plate for shoes, etc." is c.1825.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Now they were coaches in suits and shined shoes instead of jerseys and cleats.
But now he runs year round, five or six times a week, sometimes wearing cleats
  to get across the snow.
There are several products that can turn ordinary shoes into cleats.
But now the tail of his blousy shirt, ensnarled in the cleats of one of the
  wardens' boots, became tattered and soiled.
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