Definition of shelf
1a : a thin flat usually long and narrow piece of material (such as wood) fastened horizontally (as on a wall) at a distance from the floor to hold objectsb : one of several similar pieces in a closet, bookcase, or similar structurec : the contents of a shelf the author of a shelf of best sellers
2 : something resembling a shelf in form or position: such asa : a sandbank or ledge of rocks usually partially submergedb : a flat projecting layer of rockc : the submerged gradually sloping border of a continent or island : continental shelf
shelffulplay \ˈshelf-ˌfu̇l\ noun
shelflikeplay \ˈshelf-ˌlīk\ adjective
off the shelf
: available from stock : not made to order off the shelf equipment
on the shelf
: in a state of inactivity or uselessness
Examples of shelf in a Sentence
Put the vase on the shelf.
the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet
Will you get that book down off the shelf?
We don't have much shelf space.
Recent Examples of shelf from the Web
Farther south, in modern-day Israel and Jordan, for example, people living before, during, and after Göbekli Tepe’s time were removing the skulls from skeletons and setting them apart in special burial caches or on shelves.
Among shelves and stacks, there is a set of mysterious, solid-wooden heads.
Instead of baling hay, scooping ice cream or stocking supermarket shelves in July and August, today’s teens are more likely to be enrolled in summer school, doing volunteer work to burnish their college credentials or just hanging out with friends.
Strand has shelves of miniature cows, many that are small replicas of the CowParade creations.
The Reference ShelfThe Congressional Research Service summarizes court cases that have stemmed from information access disputes between Congress and the executive branch.
The deal appeared to be headed for the shelf before Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman, a Coral Gables law firm, was chosen from a pool of 16 candidates.
At the end, the shelves were mostly bare, and Hallatt rang up the last customer a minute into Thursday.
Apart from the long lines and empty shelves at supermarkets, there were other ways that the moves against Qatar could hurt it economically.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shelf'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of shelf
Middle English, probably from Old English scylfe; akin to Old Norse hlīthskjalf Odin's seat
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
SHELF Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of shelf for English Language Learners
: a flat board which is attached to a wall, frame, etc., and on which objects can be placed
geology : a flat area of rock, sand, etc., especially underwater
SHELF Defined for Kids
Definition of shelf for Students
1 : a flat piece (as of wood or metal) set above a floor (as on a wall or in a bookcase) to hold things
2 : a flat area (as of rock)
Seen and Heard
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