\ˈshelv \
shelved; shelving

Definition of shelve 

transitive verb

1 : to furnish with shelves

2 : to place on a shelf shelve books

3a : to remove from active service

b : to put off or aside shelve a project

intransitive verb

: to slope in a formation like a shelf

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from shelve

shelver noun

Examples of shelve in a Sentence

The books were shelved according to category. let's shelve the project for now

Recent Examples on the Web

Tall shelving units work well in these spaces and are perfect for storing games, crafts and artwork. Detroit Free Press, "6 ways to make the most of your dining room space," 21 June 2018 Mount Wutai, in Shanxi province, has mulled IPO plans since 2010, but was reported this week as having shelved them in December. The Economist, "China’s holy sites list on the stockmarket," 26 Apr. 2018 There’s a tiny kitchen on the counter, with two induction burners and a sandwich press, shelves easily rearrangeable thanks to the wood pegboard on the wall. Devra First,, "A case of the Mondays, a tin of smoked eel," 23 Apr. 2018 The migrants, along with much of Israel, watched in disbelief as Netanyahu went from proudly announcing the UN deal live on national TV to shelving it hours later. Tia Goldenberg, The Christian Science Monitor, "After Netanyahu's stunning reversal, African migrants in Israel remain in limbo," 4 Apr. 2018 The migrants, along with much of Israel, watched in disbelief as Netanyahu went from proudly announcing the U.N. deal live on national TV to shelving it hours later. Tia Goldenberg, Fox News, "Israel's African migrants in limbo after Netanyahu reversal," 4 Apr. 2018 In 2007, rather than addressing NIST’s recommendation, the Election Assistance Commission shelved it. Greg Gordon, kansascity, "Voting machines in 14 states — including Kansas — are highly vulnerable | The Kansas City Star," 3 Apr. 2018 Assaults and rapes reported by juveniles on military bases rarely make it to the desks of prosecutors, because investigators shelve them, despite them being required to pursue the allegations, according to the AP. Christianna Silva, Teen Vogue, "The Military Doesn't Do Enough to Protect Young Sexual Assault Victims, According to a Report," 13 Mar. 2018 Hadley Richardson was shelved away when her attentions toward him (and her trust fund) became inadequate after the birth of their son. Dana Snitzky, Longreads, "Hemingway’s Last Girl," 12 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of shelve

1598, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for shelve


Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shelve

Dictionary Entries near shelve








Statistics for shelve

Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shelve

The first known use of shelve was in 1598

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for shelve



English Language Learners Definition of shelve

: to put (something) on a shelf

: to stop doing or thinking about (something) for a period of time

: to make (someone) unable to play or perform


\ˈshelv \
shelved; shelving

Kids Definition of shelve

1 : to place or store on a shelf shelve books

2 : to put off or aside : defer The plan has been shelved for now.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on shelve

What made you want to look up shelve? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that holds something together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!