See also: sheave


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From Middle English scheef, from Old English sċēaf, from Proto-West Germanic *skaub, from Proto-Germanic *skauba- (sheaf).


  • enPR: shēf, IPA(key): /ʃiːf/
  • Audio (US):(file)
  • Rhymes: -iːf



sheaf (plural sheaves or sheafs)

  1. A quantity of the stalks and ears of wheat, rye, or other grain, bound together; a bundle of grain or straw.
    Synonym: reap
    • c. 1588–1593 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene iii], line 70:
      O, let me teach you how to knit again / This scattered corn into one mutual sheaf, / These broken limbs again into one body.
    • 1697, Virgil, “The First Book of the Georgics”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, page 60, lines 429–430:
      Ev’n while the Reaper fills his greedy hands, / And binds the golden Sheafs in brittle bands
  2. Any collection of things bound together.
    Synonym: bundle
    a sheaf of paper
    • 1986, John le Carré, A Perfect Spy:
      Together the two men march up the aisle and mount the dais, and while Muspole shakes hands with the chairman and his lady, the major draws a sheaf of notes from a briefcase and lays them on the table.
  3. A bundle of arrows sufficient to fill a quiver, or the allowance of each archer.
    • 1700, John Dryden, Palamon and Arcite:
      The sheaf of arrows shook, and rattled in the case.
  4. A quantity of arrows, usually twenty-four.
    • 1786, Francis Grose, A Treatise on Ancient Armour and Weapons, page 34:
      Arrows were anciently made of reeds, afterwards of cornel wood, and occasionally of every species of wood: but according to Roger Ascham, ash was best; arrows were reckoned by sheaves, a sheaf consisted of twenty-four arrows.
  5. (mechanical) A sheave.
  6. (mathematics) An abstract construct in topology that associates data to the open sets of a topological space (i.e. a presheaf) in such a way so as to make the local and global data compatible, generalizing the situation of functions, fiber bundles, manifold structure, etc. on a topological space. Formally, a presheaf   whose sections are, in a technical sense, uniquely determined by their restrictions onto smaller sets: that is, given an open cover   of  :
    1. If two sections over   agree under restriction to every  , then the sections are the same.
    2. Given a family of sections   such that all pairs   agree under restriction to  , there is a (unique) section   over   whose restriction to   is  .

Derived terms



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sheaf (third-person singular simple present sheafs, present participle sheafing, simple past and past participle sheafed)

  1. (transitive) To gather and bind into a sheaf; to make into sheaves
    to sheaf wheat
  2. (intransitive) To collect and bind cut grain, or the like; to make sheaves.