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[steyv] /steɪv/
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.
  1. a verse or stanza of a poem or song.
  2. the alliterating sound in a line of verse, as the w- sound in wind in the willows.
Music. staff1 (def 10).
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,
  1. to put, ward, or keep off, as by force or evasion.
  2. to prevent in time; forestall:
    He wasn't able to stave off bankruptcy.
Origin of stave
1125-75; (noun) Middle English, back formation from staves; (v.) derivative of the noun
Related forms
unstaved, adjective
4. See verse. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for stave off
  • 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.
  • Or to feel better, one might eat more, perhaps to stave off boredom.
  • Heaters might stave off doom for bats: researchers.
  • But with money to stave off financial pressure, the players might be able to get more from owners.
  • In the meantime, however, the argument that it can stave off cancer is unsupported.
  • How bacteria in the intestine can stave off diabetes is not yet clear.
  • None of them can permanently stave off the system s inherent tendency to crisis.
British Dictionary definitions for stave off

stave off

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


any one of a number of long strips of wood joined together to form a barrel, bucket, boat hull, etc
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
any stick, staff, etc
a stanza or verse of a poem
  1. (Brit) an individual group of five lines and four spaces used in staff notation
  2. another word for staff1 (sense 9)
verb staves, staving, staved, stove
(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
(transitive) usually foll by in. to burst or force (a hole in something)
(transitive) to provide (a ladder, chair, etc) with a stave or staves
(transitive) (Scot) to sprain (a finger, toe, etc)
Word Origin
C14: back formation from staves, plural of staff1
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 stave off



"piece of a barrel," 1750, back-formation from staves (late 14c.), plural of staff (cf. leaves/leaf), possibly from Old English, 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 literally "keep off with a staff," as of dogs.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with stave off

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® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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