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verb \ˈklēv\

Definition of cleave

cleaved play \ˈklēvd\ or clove play \ˈklōv\ also clave play \ˈklāv\ cleavedcleav·ing

  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly

Origin of cleave

Middle English clevien, from Old English clifian; akin to Old High German kleben to stick

First Known Use: before 12th century

Synonym Discussion of cleave

stick, adhere, cohere, cling, cleave mean to become closely attached. stick implies attachment by affixing or by being glued together <couldn't get the label to stick>. adhere is often interchangeable with stick but sometimes implies a growing together <antibodies adhering to a virus>. cohere suggests a sticking together of parts so that they form a unified mass <eggs will make the mixture cohere>. cling implies attachment by hanging on with arms or tendrils <clinging to a capsized boat>. cleave stresses strength of attachment <the wet shirt cleaved to his back>.




Definition of cleave

cleaved play \ˈklēvd\ also cleft play \ˈkleft\ or clove play \ˈklōv\ cleaved also cleft or clo·ven play \ˈklō-vən\ cleav·ing

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to divide by or as if by a cutting blow :  split

  3. 2 :  to separate into distinct parts and especially into groups having divergent views

  4. 3 :  to subject to chemical cleavage <a protein cleaved by an enzyme>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. 1 :  to split especially along the grain

  7. 2 :  to penetrate or pass through something by or as if by cutting

Origin of cleave

Middle English cleven, from Old English clēofan; akin to Old Norse kljūfa to split, Latin glubere to peel, Greek glyphein to carve

First Known Use: before 12th century

Synonym Discussion of cleave

tear, rip, rend, split, cleave, rive mean to separate forcibly. tear implies pulling apart by force and leaving jagged edges <tear up the letter>. rip implies a pulling apart in one rapid uninterrupted motion often along a line or joint <ripped the shirt on a nail>. rend implies very violent or ruthless severing or sundering <an angry mob rent the prisoner's clothes>. split implies a cutting or breaking apart in a continuous, straight, and usually lengthwise direction or in the direction of grain or layers <split logs for firewood>. cleave implies very forceful splitting or cutting with a blow <a bolt of lightning cleaved the giant oak>. rive occurs most often in figurative use <a political party riven by conflict>.

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb \ˈklēv\

Medical Definition of cleave


  1. :  to subject to chemical cleavage <a protein cleaved by an enzyme>

Seen and Heard

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February 11, 2016

the holder of an office

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