cleav·​ers ˈklē-vərz How to pronounce cleavers (audio)
plural in form but singular or plural in construction
: an annual bedstraw (Galium aparine) having many stalked white flowers and stems covered with curved prickles
also : any of several related plants

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Keep in Mind: This sharpener was designed for standard knives and won't work on filet knives or ultra-fine cleavers. Adria Greenhauff, Better Homes & Gardens, 8 Feb. 2023 Others wield stone cleavers to slice through large fruits. Alex Orlando, Discover Magazine, 18 Dec. 2019 This sharpener can accommodate chef’s knives, paring knives, boning knives, and meat cleavers. Laura Denby, Peoplemag, 6 Oct. 2022 This year my diet has included chickweed, dead nettle, bittercress, dock, garlic pennycress, wild onion, brassica, wood sorrel, cleavers, dandelions, lamb’s quarters, day lily shoots, sochan, purslane and poke (amply boiled to remove toxins). Gabriel Popkin, Washington Post, 15 Aug. 2022 Brandishing bloodstained cleavers, two men warn Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about inflaming religious tensions in India and vow to avenge acts of blasphemy. Niha Masih, Washington Post, 29 June 2022 Eventually, a sweet clover, Bloody Butcher corn and black bee honey cake dressed with calendulas appeared, along with steaming cups of Spring Equinox tea, a custom blend of nettle, cleavers, dandelion leaf and Plantago that Coleman conceived. New York Times, 11 May 2022 And sharpening knives and cleavers for the local butcher. John Anderson, WSJ, 4 Nov. 2021 In the office, two cleavers are stuck forebodingly into the wall, an installation by Barry Le Va, the influential sculptor who died this year. New York Times, 14 June 2021 See More

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

Word History


Middle English clivre, alteration of Old English clife burdock, cleavers; akin to Old English clifian

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cleavers was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near cleavers

Cite this Entry

“Cleavers.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

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