\ ˈkav How to pronounce calve (audio) , ˈkäv \
calved; calving

Definition of calve

intransitive verb

1 : to give birth to a calf also : to produce offspring
2 of an ice mass : to separate or break so that a part becomes detached

transitive verb

1 : to produce by birth
2 of an ice mass : to let become detached

Examples of calve in a Sentence

The cow calved in the barn.
Recent Examples on the Web Elk, bison and moose also calve during this period, so give the parents and their offspring a wide berth. Andrea Sachs, Washington Post, 22 June 2022 The fjords of Prince Williams Sound echo like thunder as glaciers calve off into the sea at an ever increasing rate. Todd Nelson, Star Tribune, 5 Apr. 2021 People should also remember that Portage Glacier can calve at any moment, buckling and crushing frozen lake ice, as captured in dramatic videos over the past couple years. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, 19 Mar. 2021 Changes in feeding influence reproduction, and anything that harms whales' ability to calve ultimately jeopardizes survival. Elizabeth Grossman, Scientific American, 22 Oct. 2010 The giant pancake of Malaspina Glacier does not calve into the ocean. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, 27 Feb. 2021 As the glacier flows out to sea, icebergs calve off the ocean-facing end of the ice shelf. Sarah Gibbens, Environment, 28 Dec. 2020 Huge masses of ice spectacularly calve from its face with thunderous roars. Melissa Findley, National Geographic, 20 Nov. 2020 Alaska — Bartlett Cove Campground, Glacier Bay National Park In a state full of natural riches, Glacier Bay is a marvel, home to lofty peaks, humpback whales, 700 miles of coastline, and blue-tinged glaciers that calve directly into the sea. Sarah Feldberg, Travel + Leisure, 24 Feb. 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'calve.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of calve

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for calve

Middle English calven, going back to Old English (Anglian) *calfian, (West Saxon) cealfian, derivative of cælf, cealf calf entry 1

Learn More About calve

Time Traveler for calve

Time Traveler

The first known use of calve was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near calve




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for calve

Last Updated

29 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Calve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for calve


\ ˈkav How to pronounce calve (audio) , ˈkäv \
calved; calving

Kids Definition of calve

: to give birth to a calf The cow calved in the barn.

More from Merriam-Webster on calve

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for calve

Nglish: Translation of calve for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!