See also: chivé


Chive (left) and onion (right)

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English cyve, from Old French cive, from Latin cepa (onion).


  • IPA(key): /tʃaɪv/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪv


chive (plural chives)

  1. A perennial plant, Allium schoenoprasum, related to the onion.
  2. (in the plural) The leaves of this plant used as a herb.
  3. (obsolete) The style and stigma of a flower, especially saffron.
    • 1577, Raphael Holinshed et al., The Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Ireland, London: John Hunne, Book 3, Chapter 14, “Of English Saffron,”[1]
      [] in the place wher he bled, Saffron was after found to grow, whereupon the people séeyng the color of the chiue as it stoode, (although I doubt not but it grewe there long before) adiudged it to come to the bloude of Crocus, and therefore they gaue it his name.
    • 1610, Edmund Bolton, The Elements of Armories, London: George Eld, Chapter 28, p. 156-157,[2]
      [] to abate, and allay the fulnesse of red, we doe not see white vsed (as a colour too remote) but rather yellow, and that so farre-forth as some doe grinde a Chiue of Saffron with Vermillion, to make it the more pleasant, whereas white in like proportion mixed, would dimne, and decay it []
    • 1633, John Gerard, The Herball or Generall Historie of Plants, London, Chapter 38, “Of Stitchwort,”[3]
      The chiues or threds in the middle of the floure are sometimes of a reddish, or of a blackish colour.
    • 1648, Robert Herrick, “The Temple” in Hesperides, London: John Williams and Francis Eglesfield, pp. 104-105,[4]
      The Saint, to which the most he prayes
      And offers Incense Nights and dayes,
      The Lady of the Lobster is,
      Whose foot-pace he doth stroak & kisse;
      And, humbly, chives of Saffron brings,
      For his most cheerfull offerings.

See alsoEdit


Etymology 2Edit

From Romani chive, chiv, chivvomengro (knife, dagger, blade).

Alternative formsEdit


chive (plural chives)

  1. (thieves' cant) A knife.
    • 1712, “A Budg and Snudg Song”, in Farmer, John Stephen, editor, Musa Pedestris[5], published 1896, page 32:
      For when that he hath nubbed as, / And our friends tip him no cole, / He takes his chive and cuts us down, / And tips us into a hole.
    • 1841, Miles, Henry Downes, chapter XXXIX, in Dick Turpin[6], 4th edition, London: William Mark Clark, published 1845, page 267:
      None of us know'd then—though the grabbing at Nan Turner's came off that very night—as Polly was the cause o' that 'ere, till it vos blown here at the Gate by some of the coves. Vell, she nammused, as you may guess, but fust poor old Madge Rhodes got a chive in her breather from Black Gil.
    • 1879 October, J[ohn] W[illiam] Horsley, “Autobiography of a Thief in Thieves’ Language”, in Macmillan’s Magazine, volume XL, number 240, London: Macmillan and Co. [], OCLC 1005958675, page 503, column 2:
      On the Boxing Day after I came out I got stabbed in the chest by a pal of mine who had done a schooling. We was out with one another all the day getting drunk, so he took a liberty with me, and I landed him one on the conk (nose), so we had a fight, and he put the chive (knife) into me.
    • 1888 February 12, “A Plank-Bed Ballad”, in The Referee, reprinted in Farmer, John Stephen, edtor, Musa Pedestris, published 1896, page 185:
      I guyed, but the reeler he gave me hot beef, / And a scuff came about me and hollered; / I pulled out a chive but I soon same to grief, / And with screws and a james I was collared.
  2. (thieves' cant) A file.
  3. (thieves' cant) A saw.
Derived termsEdit


chive (third-person singular simple present chives, present participle chiving, simple past and past participle chived)

  1. (thieves' cant) To stab.
    • 1728, Dalton, James, A Genuine Narrative of all the Street Robberies committed since October last, by James Dalton and his Accomplices[7], page 59:
      Adieu to Haul-Cly, adieu to stopping Coaches, and adieu to all the hurry-scurry of Foot-Scampering, filing, chiving, milling, and sneaking []
    • 1868 May 1, Cassell's Magazine, page 80:
      He was as good a man as Jacky at any weapon that could be named, and if Jacky were game for a chiving (stabbing) match, he (Kavanagh) was ready for him.
    • 1879 October 1, Horsley, Rev. John William, “Autobiography of a Thief”, in Macmillan's Magazine[8], volume 40, page 503:
      After the place got well where I was chived, me and another screwed a place at Stoke Newington
  2. (thieves' cant) To cut.
Derived termsEdit


  • [Francis Grose] (1788), “Chive”, in A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 2nd corrected and enlarged edition, London: Printed for S. Hooper, [], OCLC 3138643.
  • “chive” in Albert Barrère and Charles G[odfrey] Leland, compilers and editors, A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant, volume I (A–K), Edinburgh: The Ballantyne Press, 1889–1890, page 246.
  • Farmer, John Stephen (1891) Slang and Its Analogues[9], volume 2, pages 97–98
  • Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of the Underworld, London, Macmillan Co., 1949




  1. Formal second-person singular (usted) imperative form of chivar.
  2. First-person singular (yo) present subjunctive form of chivar.
  3. Formal second-person singular (usted) present subjunctive form of chivar.
  4. Third-person singular (él, ella, also used with usted?) present subjunctive form of chivar.