plural sleeves
: a part of a garment covering an arm
: a tubular part (such as a hollow axle or a bushing) designed to fit over another part
: an open-ended flat or tubular packaging or cover
especially : jacket sense 3c(2)
: a collection of tattoos or one large tattoo that covers the arm or leg
A tall and burly white man, he had a sleeve of tattoos on one arm …Michelle Goldberg
Tattoo artists explain exactly where to start, the types of designs that work well on arms, and how long a full sleeve might take.Allure
Conder has a horror and Halloween-themed leg sleeve, but for the most part, her tattoos are random designs pieced together.Kacie Goode
Not everyone in Brooklyn has a … sleeve tattooA. O. Scott
sleeved adjective
sleeveless adjective
on one's sleeve
: in an honest and open manner
used with wear
wears his emotions on his sleeve
up one's sleeve
: held secretly in reserve
has a few tricks up her sleeve

Examples of sleeve in a Sentence

a shirt with long sleeves The joint is covered with a metal sleeve.
Recent Examples on the Web The doctor had another idea: endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty. Holly Logan, Verywell Health, 8 July 2024 These videos often spotlight patchwork tattoos, a style that’s become increasingly trendy in the past five years and consists of clusters of uncoordinated flash tattoos rather than a cohesive sleeve. Alyssa Goldberg, USA TODAY, 8 July 2024 The bag’s convenient trolley sleeve slides onto any rolling luggage handle for effortless transport. Ali Faccenda, Travel + Leisure, 7 July 2024 The American League jerseys are beige with red lettering spelling American League, red sleeves emblazoned with the team logo on the right sleeve, with light blue coloring on the rim of the sleeve and the all-star logo on the left sleeve. Lawrence Dow, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 5 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for sleeve 

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

Word History


Middle English sleve, going back to Old English slīefe (West Saxon), slēfe (Anglian), feminine weak noun, going back to a Germanic noun base *slaubj- (whence also East Frisian [Saterland] sleeuwe "sleeve," North Frisian [Mooring] sliiw), from a verbal root *slaub- seen also in Old English slēfan (weak verb) "to slip (clothes) on," Middle Dutch slōven "to roll up, strip off, slip over something," sloof "coat of rough cloth, habit," slove "cover, wrapper," regional German Schlaube "skin, peel (of fruit, etc.)," going back to Indo-European *slou̯bh-, causative derivative of *sleu̯bh- "move easily, slip," whence also Latin (with suffix *-re/o-ko-) lūbricus "slippery, difficult to hold"

Note: This Germanic etymon for "sleeve" is evidently of Anglo-Frisian date, judging by its appearance in North and East Frisian; in West Frisian it appears to have been replaced by Dutch mouw. —The postulation of *slou̯bh- is based on the R. Lühr's hypothesis (see note at slip entry 5), though others appear to regard *slaub- as arising within Germanic, without positing an Indo-European base (thus Feist/Lehmann, A Gothic Etymological Dictionary; G. Kroonen, Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic); thereby the verb *sleupan- "to creep, glide" (see slip entry 5) can be added to the above group of words, as well as Gothic afslaupjan "to strip off (a garment)," a causative with o-grade ablaut. Kroonen additionally cites also Old Frisian slēpan "to fasten, put (a noose around the neck)" and Old Saxon slōpian "to loosen." The putative Old English verb slīepan cited by Feist/Lehmann and Kroonen does not appear to exist, nor does slíefan cited by Lühr. Kroonen cites as a form comparative within Indo-European Lithuanian įslupti "to slip in" and Latvian šļupt "to glide out." For more Germanic nominal derivatives see slop entry 1.

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of sleeve was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near sleeve

Cite this Entry

“Sleeve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


: the part of a garment covering the arm
: a part that fits over or around something like a sleeve
sleeved adjective
sleeveless adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on sleeve

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