Definition of shelf
1a : a thin flat usually long and narrow piece of material (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: 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.
Origin and Etymology of shelf
Middle English, probably from Old English scylfe; akin to Old Norse hlīthskjalf Odin's seat
First Known Use: 14th century
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
What made you want to look up shelf? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).