Dictionary

1cleave

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

Definition of CLEAVE

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

2cleave

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

Definition of CLEAVE

transitive verb
1
:  to divide by or as if by a cutting blow :  split
2
:  to separate into distinct parts and especially into groups having divergent views
3
:  to subject to chemical cleavage <a protein cleaved by an enzyme>
intransitive verb
1
:  to split especially along the grain
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>.
CLEAVES Defined for Kids

1cleave

verb \ˈklēv\
cleaved or clove \ˈklōv\cleav·ing

Definition of CLEAVE for Kids

:  to cling to a person or thing closely <The child cleaved to his mother.>

2cleave

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

Definition of CLEAVE for Kids

:  to divide by or as if by a cutting blow :  split <The ax cleaved the log in two.>

Headscratcher for CLEAVE

The two verbs cleave look and sound alike, but have very different meanings. One means to split apart, and the other means to cling to.
Medical Dictionary

cleave

transitive verb \ˈklēv\
cleavedcleav·ing

Medical Definition of CLEAVE

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

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