shelf

noun
\ ˈshelf How to pronounce shelf (audio) \
plural shelves\ ˈshelvz How to pronounce shelves (audio) \

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 objects
b : one of several similar pieces in a closet, bookcase, or similar structure
c : the contents of a shelf the author of a shelf of best sellers
2 : something resembling a shelf in form or position: such as
a : a sandbank or ledge of rocks usually partially submerged
b : a flat projecting layer of rock
c : the submerged gradually sloping border of a continent or island : continental shelf
off the shelf
: available from stock : not made to order off the shelf equipment
on the shelf
: in a state of inactivity or uselessness

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Other Words from shelf

shelfful \ ˈshelf-​ˌfu̇l How to pronounce shelfful (audio) \ noun
shelflike \ ˈshelf-​ˌlīk How to pronounce shelflike (audio) \ adjective

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Today, the small shelf of F.T.M. literature that Sullivan envisioned is much larger, and includes his own diaries. Jeremy Lybarger, The New Yorker, "Lou Sullivan’s Diaries Are a Radical Testament to Trans Happiness," 16 Sep. 2019 Now the idea of that gets put to the test, with a good but not top-shelf quarterback dropped into the mix. Albert Breer, SI.com, "Brown’s Week in Foxboro Isn’t Surprising, Stay Tuned to Ramsey’s Request, More Notes," 16 Sep. 2019 Products to remove wrinkles or grey hair fly off the shelves. Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press, "Mitch Albom: Jabs at Joe Biden mask our growing ageism issue," 15 Sep. 2019 The Levoit does have the same drawbacks as other ultrasonic humidifiers, requiring it to sit on a table or shelf to prevent the mist from forming puddles on the floor. Paige Szmodis, Popular Mechanics, "Breathe Easier With One of These 8 Best Humidifiers," 13 Sep. 2019 The placement of these shelves urges a reader to pick up a good book and start reading. Jacques Kelly, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore’s Pratt Central Library emerges from renovation with its beauties intact," 13 Sep. 2019 Making the beauty industry more inclusive is not just a matter of creating new shades of foundation, or adding more ethnic hair-care products to the shelves of grocery stores. Brianna Holt, Quartz, "The beauty industry’s most entrenched diversity problem is ethnic plastic surgery," 13 Sep. 2019 The shelves were just four pine planks on metal brackets, but the structure seemed towering to me as a toddler. Sarah Ruden, National Review, "Reading Like a Child," 12 Sep. 2019 The restaurant, which yields a downtown chic vibe and almost feels like a hotel bar, is beautifully designed, lit shelves illuminating bottles. Marc Bona, cleveland.com, "Murano keeps Italian focus in sleek restaurant setting (review, photos)," 12 Sep. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of shelf

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for shelf

Middle English, probably from Old English scylfe; akin to Old Norse hlīthskjalf Odin's seat

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Statistics for shelf

Last Updated

5 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shelf

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

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More Definitions for shelf

shelf

noun

English Language Learners Definition of shelf

: 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

noun
\ ˈshelf How to pronounce shelf (audio) \
plural shelves\ ˈshelvz \

Kids Definition of shelf

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)

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More from Merriam-Webster on shelf

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shelf

Spanish Central: Translation of shelf

Nglish: Translation of shelf for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shelf for Arabic Speakers

Comments on shelf

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