\ ˈkleft How to pronounce cleft (audio) \

Definition of cleft

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a space or opening made by or as if by splitting : fissure
2 : a usually V-shaped indented formation : a hollow between ridges or protuberances the anal cleft of the human body



Definition of cleft (Entry 2 of 2)

: partially split or divided specifically : divided about halfway to the midrib a cleft leaf

Synonyms for cleft

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of cleft in a Sentence

Noun The river begins as a trickle of water from a cleft in the rock. He has a distinctive cleft in his chin.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But the cleft in the mountain summit at Stampa also anticipates the ways in which Giacometti came to describe facial features with a precise, cutting intensity. Steven Litt, cleveland, 20 Mar. 2022 But Giacometti sharply indicates a cleft near the summit where the sun casts a sharp shadow, slicing into a solid mass and creating a sense of three-dimensionality. Steven Litt, cleveland, 20 Mar. 2022 The breed also has a high level of puppy mortality due to congenital defects like splayed legs and cleft palates, while adults deal with hip and elbow dysplasia and spinal curvature. Dan Heching,, 2 Feb. 2022 The deep cleft, slicing between the Kinsman and Franconia mountain ranges, is surrounded by granite walls and forested slopes., 28 July 2021 Ginzan Onsen in Yamagata Prefecture is a tiny spa town in a remote mountain cleft that was originally a silver mine. Selena Takigawa Hoy, Travel + Leisure, 21 June 2021 While the active site of the NSP3 protease does not have much structural similarity with the HCV or NSP5 proteases, the researchers carried out virtual docking studies of these same 10 HCV drugs into the substrate-binding cleft of NSP3 protease. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 4 June 2021 Welcome to Crawford Notch, a deep, steep-sided cleft in the White Mountain range in northern New Hampshire., 25 Mar. 2021 In Cappadocia, a region in south-central Turkey, a river carved a deep cleft in the mountains and left behind a network of caves in the soft stone. The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective High-altitude deliveries often result in lighter babies, and some research connects them with birth defects such as cleft lips and issues with heart function. Hannah Weinberger, Outside Online, 13 Aug. 2014 Andersen, who is originally from Denmark, is wiry and clean cut, with a cleft chin and clipped enunciation. Carolyn Kormann, The New Yorker, 12 Oct. 2021 She has been involved in charitable work for decades, visiting foreign countries through a non-profit that provides surgery to children with cleft lips or palates and no access to care. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, The Arizona Republic, 24 June 2021 Their work consists of surgeries for conditions such as cleft palates, crossed eyes, burn scars and hernia repairs. San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 June 2021 So are cleft lips, sometimes accompanied by cleft palate. New York Times, 16 Mar. 2021 According to the organization, more than 37,000 cleft surgeries have been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ralphie Aversa, USA TODAY, 1 Oct. 2020 Operation Smile connects children and young adults with cleft conditions worldwide with access to safe surgical care to improve their lives and smiles. Nicole Cormier, Dallas News, 23 Sep. 2020 Other Chinese are more willing to adopt children with treatable conditions like cleft palates. The Economist, 6 June 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of cleft


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cleft


Middle English clift, from Old English geclyft; akin to Old English clēofan to cleave


Middle English, from past participle of cleven

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The first known use of cleft was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

7 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cleft.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for cleft


\ ˈkleft How to pronounce cleft (audio) \

Kids Definition of cleft

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a space or opening made by splitting or cracking : crevice



Kids Definition of cleft (Entry 2 of 2)

: partly split or divided


\ ˈkleft How to pronounce cleft (audio) \

Medical Definition of cleft

1 : a usually abnormal fissure or opening especially when resulting from failure of parts to fuse during embryonic development
2 : a usually V-shaped indented formation : a hollow between ridges or protuberances the anal cleft of the human body
3 : the hollow space between the two branches of the frog or the frog and bars or between the bulbs of the heel of a horse's hoof
4 : a crack on the bend of the pastern of a horse
5 : a division of the cleft foot of an animal

More from Merriam-Webster on cleft

Nglish: Translation of cleft for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cleft for Arabic Speakers


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