cleav·age | \ˈklē-vij \

Definition of cleavage 

1a : the quality of a crystallized substance or rock of splitting along definite planes also : the occurrence of such splitting

b : a fragment (as of a diamond) obtained by splitting

2 : the action of cleaving or splitting : the state of being cleft

3 : the series of synchronized mitotic cell divisions of a fertilized egg that results in the formation of the blastomeres and changes the single-celled zygote into a multicellular embryo also : one of these cell divisions

4 : the splitting of a molecule into simpler molecules

5 : the depression between a woman's breasts especially when made visible by a low-cut neckline

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Examples of cleavage in a Sentence

The dress is cut low enough to reveal a lot of cleavage. the cleavage between the rich and poor the cleavages of an egg as an embryo develops
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Recent Examples on the Web

On Set: Joss used St. Tropez Gold Illuminator to add touches of luminosity along the tops of Moss's arms, legs and cleavage. Nicole Catanese, Harper's BAZAAR, "How to Get Kate Moss's Playboy Tan," 5 Dec. 2013 Without buttock cleavage, the commercial was a failure. John Kass,, "For Mayor Globe-trotter, it's the money that matters," 13 July 2018 The singer is seen laying down on a bed with a big smile on her face, a full face of makeup and a lavender lace bra top in the shot, which shows off her tattoos and cleavage. Jillian Ruffo,, "Iggy Azalea Shares Rare Smiling Selfie — and Her Fans Can't Get Over How Different She Looks," 23 May 2018 Another Pew survey, from June, identified the same ideological cleavage. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "The Anti-Trump Right Has Become Trump’s Base," 3 July 2018 Showing too much skin, especially cleavage, is a common guest faux pas. Ellen Warren,, "Going for a strong shoulder with (still stylish) shoulder pads," 10 July 2018 The gown was also based on 18th-century, Marie Antoinette-esque gathered-skirt taffeta gowns...and Austrian dirndl-style cleavage corsets. Brooke Porter Katz, Harper's BAZAAR, "Queen of the Desert: Henrietta Tiefenthaler & Oli Wennink's Wedding in Morocco," 11 Apr. 2018 Maintain long, thick hair, blindingly white teeth, tan skin, a thigh gap, and great cleavage — all without too much effort. Alix Tunell,, "Bachelor Contestants Are Finally Getting Real About Their Boob Jobs," 31 May 2018 The new red-carpet worry is cleavage lines For firming the jaw and neck and getting rid of tree trunk lines, radiofrequency micro-needling has taken over. Ingrid Schmidt, The Hollywood Reporter, "Derm-to-the-Stars Harold Lancer Says Big Butts Are Out, Lifted Nose Tips Are In," 27 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of cleavage

1816, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for cleavage

Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for cleavage

The first known use of cleavage was in 1816

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More Definitions for cleavage



English Language Learners Definition of cleavage

: the space between a woman's breasts especially when it can be easily seen

: a division between two things or groups

: the act of splitting apart


cleav·age | \ˈklē-vij \

Kids Definition of cleavage

1 : the tendency of a rock or mineral to split readily in one or more directions

2 : the action of splitting

3 : the state of being split


cleav·age | \ˈklē-vij \

Medical Definition of cleavage 

1 : the series of synchronized mitotic cell divisions of the fertilized egg that results in the formation of the blastomeres and changes the single-celled zygote into a multicellular embryo also : one of these cell divisions

2 : the splitting of a molecule into simpler molecules

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More from Merriam-Webster on cleavage

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cleavage

Spanish Central: Translation of cleavage

Nglish: Translation of cleavage for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about cleavage

Comments on cleavage

What made you want to look up cleavage? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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