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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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
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 Brady's reading a big ol' hardback during yard time when Jimmy approaches with a shiv. Sara Netzley,, 20 July 2022 Maybe that’s the real irony, the way Ishiguro sticks in the shiv. Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic, 2 Mar. 2021 The shiv that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott stuck in the back of the 2020 Showdown feels more like the middle of a row of falling dominoes, as opposed to the end. Sean Keeler, The Denver Post, 18 July 2020 Maybe someone in his camp can gently give him a shiv. Emma Colton, Washington Examiner, 16 Mar. 2020 The officer called for help as Brooks stabbed Little, who was also armed with a shiv and fought back., 27 Oct. 2019
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 See More

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

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 25 Mar. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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