1

cleave

play
verb \ˈklēv\

Definition of cleave

cleaved

play \ˈklēvd\ or

clove

play \ˈklōv\ also

clave

play \ˈklāv\;

cleaved

;

cleaving

  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly children cleaving to their families

cleave was our Word of the Day on 03/08/2014. Hear the podcast!

Origin and Etymology of cleave

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

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

2

cleave

verb

Definition of cleave

cleaved

play \ˈklēvd\ also

cleft

play \ˈkleft\ or

clove

play \ˈklōv\;

cleaved

also

cleft

or

cloven

play \ˈklō-vən\;

cleaving

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to divide by or as if by a cutting blow :  split The blow cleaved the victim's skull.

  3. 2 :  to separate into distinct parts and especially into groups having divergent views The political party was cleaved by internal bickering.

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

  5. intransitive verb
  6. 1 :  to split especially along the grain The ax easily cleaved the log.

  7. 2 :  to penetrate or pass through something by or as if by cutting The ship's bow cleaved through the water.

Origin and Etymology of cleave

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

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


CLEAVE Defined for Kids

1

cleave

play
verb \ˈklēv\

Definition of cleave for Students

cleaved

or

clove

\ˈklōv\;

cleaving

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


2

cleave

play
verb

Definition of cleave for Students

cleaved

also

cleft

\ˈkleft\ or

clove

\ˈklōv\;

cleaved

also

cleft

or

cloven

\ˈklō-vən\;

cleaving

  1. :  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

play
transitive verb \ˈklēv\

Medical Definition of cleave

cleaved

;

cleaving

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



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

sad or melancholy

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • istock-refers-to-this-as-a-tumble-of-strawberries-which-sounded-pretty-nice-to-us
  • Which is a synonym of garner?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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