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past tense of cleave

: one of a pair of cylindrical hardwood sticks that are used as a percussion instrument

Examples of clave in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
He’s made his own mind-expanding New York connections, playing with Cuban pianist Axel Tosca and Puerto Rican bass maestro John Benitez, whose music has been steeped in kindred rhythms defined by clave, the fundamental Afro-Cuban rhythmic pattern. Andrew Gilbert, The Mercury News, 7 May 2024 Hints of Cuban clave rhythms, Tin Pan Alley harmonies, Jewish melodies and piano licks swim through its overarching Romantic theme. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 14 Feb. 2024 The great-grandfathers could be said to resemble fiendish claves. Jay Pilgreen, Kansas City Star, 12 Feb. 2024 Man, execute break time; execute flipping the beat; execute Latin grooves; execute clave beats; African rhythms. Jordan A. Rothacker, SPIN, 20 Dec. 2023 The sound of the clave plays across Brooklyn on a windy Friday night in September. Damaly Gonzalez, Rolling Stone, 26 Oct. 2023 Also the name of an instrument on which the ubiquitous beat is played, the clave is most closely associated with Afro-Cuban music. Dallas News, 14 Feb. 2022 Cimafunk’s sound is thoroughly Caribbean, with strong clave timeline and hand-clap patterns chopping up the music, which also has elements of futuristic soul and hip-hop. John Adamian,, 14 Aug. 2019 The beat has a hint of Caribbean clave, while the chords move from minor to major, embracing temporary satisfaction. New York Times, 16 Feb. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'clave.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



American Spanish, from Spanish, keystone, clef, from Latin clavis

First Known Use


1928, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of clave was in 1928

Dictionary Entries Near clave

Cite this Entry

“Clave.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2024.

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