one of the thin, narrow, shaped pieces of wood that form the sides of a cask, tub, or similar vessel.
a stick, rod, pole, or the like.
a rung of a ladder, chair, etc.
a verse or stanza of a poem or song.
the alliterating sound in a line of verse, as the w- sound in wind in the willows.
Music. staff1 ( def 9 ).
verb (used with object), staved or stove, staving.
to break in a stave or staves of (a cask or barrel) so as to release the wine, liquor, or other contents.
to release (wine, liquor, etc.) by breaking the cask or barrel.
to break or crush (something) inward (often followed by in ).
to break (a hole) in, especially in the hull of a boat.
to break to pieces; splinter; smash.
to furnish with a stave or staves.
to beat with a stave or staff.
verb (used without object), staved or stove, staving.
to become staved in, as a boat; break in or up.
to move along rapidly.
Verb phrases
stave off,
to put, ward, or keep off, as by force or evasion.
to prevent in time; forestall: He wasn't able to stave off bankruptcy.

1125–75; (noun) Middle English, back formation from staves; (v.) derivative of the noun

unstaved, adjective

4. See verse. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
stave (steɪv)
1.  any one of a number of long strips of wood joined together to form a barrel, bucket, boat hull, etc
2.  any of various bars, slats, or rods, usually of wood, such as a rung of a ladder or a crosspiece bracing the legs of a chair
3.  any stick, staff, etc
4.  a stanza or verse of a poem
5.  music
 a.  (Brit) an individual group of five lines and four spaces used in staff notation
 b.  another word for staff
vb (usually foll by in) , staves, staving, staved, stove
6.  (often foll by in) to break or crush (the staves of a boat, barrel, etc) or (of the staves of a boat) to be broken or crushed
7.  to burst or force (a hole in something)
8.  (tr) to provide (a ladder, chair, etc) with a stave or staves
9.  (Scot) (tr) to sprain (a finger, toe, etc)
[C14: back formation from staves, plural of staff1]

stave off
(tr, adverb) to avert or hold off (something undesirable or harmful), esp temporarily: to stave off hunger

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

"piece of a barrel," 1750, back-formation from staves (late 14c.), plural of staff (cf. leaves/leaf), possibly from O.E., but not recorded there. The verb (to stave in, past tense stove) is 1590s, originally nautical, on notion of bashing in the staves of a cask and letting
out the contents; stave off (1620s) is lit. "keep off with a staff," as of dogs.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

stave off

Keep or hold away, repel, as in The Federal Reserve Board is determined to stave off inflation. This metaphoric expression transfers beating something off with a staff or stave to nonphysical repulsion. [c. 1600]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Standing waist-deep in muddy water, they chew coca leaves to stave off
  exhaustion and hunger.
Revel in your opportunities to wait out this lousy economy, stave off the
  student-loan collectors, and study in coffee shops.
Regular meditation may increase smarts and stave off aging, according to an
  ongoing study.
Not far below these directives is the implementation of strategies designed to
  stave off the after-effects of devastation.
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