follow Dictionary.com

Know these essential literary terms?

cleavers

[klee-verz] /ˈkli vərz/
noun, plural cleavers.
1.
a North American plant, Galium aparine, of the madder family, having short, hooked bristles on the stems and leaves and bearing very small white flowers.
2.
any of certain related species.
Also, clivers.
Also called catchweed, goose grass.
Origin
1000
before 1000; Middle English clivre, Old English clife burdock (-re probably by association with Middle English clivres (plural) claws, or with the agent noun from cleven to cleave1, whence the modern spelling)

cleaver

[klee-ver] /ˈkli vər/
noun
1.
a heavy, broad-bladed knife or long-bladed hatchet, especially one used by butchers for cutting meat into joints or pieces.
2.
a person or thing that cleaves.
Origin
1325-75; Middle English clevere. See cleave2, -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for cleavers
  • Robbers threatened staff with meat cleavers during an armed robbery at a designer clothes shop.
  • Especially when he tosses those meat cleavers around.
  • The whapping is the sound of meat cleavers coming down on the heads of live turtles and frogs.
  • Store knives, saws, and cleavers in a designated storage area when not in use.
British Dictionary definitions for cleavers

cleavers

/ˈkliːvəz/
noun
1.
(functioning as sing) a Eurasian rubiaceous plant, Galium aparine, having small white flowers and prickly stems and fruits Also called goosegrass, hairif, sticky willie
Word Origin
Old English clīfe; related to clīfan to cleave²

cleaver

/ˈkliːvə/
noun
1.
a heavy knife or long-bladed hatchet, esp one used by butchers
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for cleavers

cleaver

n.

late 15c., "one who splits," agent noun from cleave (v.1). Originally "one who splits boards with a wedge instead of sawing;" attested as part of a surname from mid-14c. Meaning "butcher's chopper" is from mid-15c.

This last ["Marrowbones and Cleaver"] is a sign in Fetter Lane, originating from a custom, now rapidly dying away, of the butcher boys serenading newly married couples with these professional instruments. Formerly, the band would consist of four cleavers, each of a different tone, or, if complete, of eight, and by beating their marrowbones skilfully against these, they obtained a sort of music somewhat after the fashion of indifferent bell-ringing. When well performed, however, and heard from a proper distance, it was not altogether unpleasant. ... The butchers of Clare market had the reputation of being the best performers. ... This music was once so common that Tom Killigrew called it the national instrument of England. [Larwood & Hotten, "The History of Signboards from the Earliest Times to the Present Day," London, 1867]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
cleavers in Science
cleaver
  (klē'vər)   
A bifacial stone tool flaked to produce a straight, sharp, relatively wide edge at one end. Cleavers are early core tools associated primarily with the Acheulian tool culture.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for cleavers

cleaver

heavy, axlike knife used since the Middle Pleistocene era to cut through animal bone and meat; in modern times the cleaver, generally made of iron or carbon steel, remains a requisite tool of the butcher and a common kitchen implement. The versatility of the cleaver is probably best exemplified by its prominent role in Chinese-style cooking, in which it figures in every step of preparation from chopping firewood to butchering meat to slicing delicate vegetables and even whittling chopsticks. Its flat side is used like a mallet to pound and tenderize meat.

Learn more about cleaver with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for cleavers

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for cleavers

13
16
Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for cleavers