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plural shivs
: a small usually improvised pointed or bladed weapon
With nothing but time on their hands, the prisoners craft weapons from available resources: shivs are made from toothbrushes or pieces of metal bunks.Newsweek
Some created makeshift weapons by fashioning "shivs" out of sharpened spoons and toothbrushes …Kristian Silva
The guards were … attacked with a makeshift weapon—a so-called shiv, fashioned from razor blades and a toothbrush …The Irish Examiner
… remove the staple from a magazine, straighten it, mount it in a juice straw …, you got yourself a neat little shivKent H. Dixon
sometimes used figuratively
… gave an artful lesson in how to stick a shiv into a sitting president without ever raising his voice or making a specific accusation.Walter Shapiro


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shivved also shived; shivving also shiving; shivs

transitive verb

: to stab or cut (someone) with a shiv (see shiv entry 1)
shivved him in the back
often used figuratively
Any signs of dissent will result in his personally shivving the offender politically …Hayes Brown

Examples of shiv in a Sentence

Noun watch yourself in Cell Block 8, or you'll end up with a shiv in your back
Recent Examples on the Web
For those of you uneducated about Star War Legos, in layman terms this means I was stabbed by a collection of Legos shaped like a prison shiv. Sherry Kuehl, Kansas City Star, 21 Feb. 2024 When the dust settles, Torres looks down to see a shiv sticking out of his side., 12 Feb. 2024 Mac and Ray looked into history and found people to celebrate; Escola looked into history and found people to—metaphorically, of course—shiv. Helen Shaw, The New Yorker, 9 Feb. 2024 As Kyle Gibson came off the mound after the second inning Monday and again after the fifth, umpiring crew chief Dan Iassogna and colleague Andy Fletcher pulled him aside along the first-base line to check for Spider Tack, other sticky substances, nail files or — who knows — perhaps a shiv. Evan Grant, Dallas News, 21 June 2021 He was attacked with a shiv and was left to die. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, 10 June 2020 Whatever Paperny might have been expecting — a battle-scarred lifer, a guy who could turn a Bic pen into a shiv — Santos wasn’t it. New York Times, 7 June 2022 Snark and a shiv carry more weight that the nuanced policy arguments about the cost of a bill or the benefits of a regulation. Philip Elliott, Time, 3 Mar. 2021 Before getting Jess a book on how to preserve deer meat, build a fire, and whittle a shiv, grab her a portable generator. Rachel Kaplan, The New Yorker, 20 Jan. 2023
After all, one of its tech-bro founders, Alex Mather, smugly told the New York Times in 2017 that the site’s goal was essentially to shiv every newspaper sports section around the country. Globe Staff,, 8 Jan. 2022 Dodge the rules, skirt the law, shiv your business partner, abandon your friends: Chafkin argues that the Silicon Valley edition of this playbook was written at PayPal. Anna Wiener, The New Yorker, 27 Oct. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shiv.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



alteration of chiv, of unknown origin

First Known Use


1897, in the meaning defined above


1926, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of shiv was in 1897

Dictionary Entries Near shiv

Cite this Entry

“Shiv.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

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