lave

1 of 2

noun

chiefly dialectal
: something that is left : residue

lave

2 of 2

verb

laved; laving

transitive verb

1
a
: wash, bathe
b
: to flow along or against
2
: pour

intransitive verb

archaic : to wash oneself : bathe

Did you know?

Lave is a simple, monosyllabic word that magically makes the mundane act of washing poetic. Shakespeare used it in The Taming of the Shrew when Gremio assured the father of his beloved Bianca that she would have "basins and ewers to lave her dainty hands." And in Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop, Nell "laved her hands and face, and cooled her feet before setting forth to walk again." The poetry of lave is also heard when describing water washing against the shore, or even the pouring of water. Before washing our hands of lave, we'll tell you that it comes from the same root as our word lavatory: the Latin verb lavare, meaning "to wash."

Example Sentences

Verb the cold water from the stream gently laved her burned fingers
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
To Eastward San Diego’s heights Stretch downward to the bay Which coyly laves her with the waves Wherein the dolphins play. San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 June 2019

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English (northern dialect), from Old English lāf; akin to Old English belīfan to remain — more at leave

Verb

Middle English, from Old English lafian, from Latin lavare

First Known Use

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of lave was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near lave

Cite this Entry

“Lave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lave. Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

lave

verb
ˈlāv
laved; laving
1
b
archaic : to wash oneself : bathe
2
: to flow along or against
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