From Middle English schelfe, probably from Old English sċylfe (deck of a ship), distantly related to sculpt, carve and shell. Cognate to Dutch schelf.


  • IPA(key): /ʃɛlf/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛlf


shelf (plural shelves)

A simple wooden wall shelf
  1. A flat, rigid structure, fixed at right angles to a wall or forming a part of a cabinet, desk etc., and used to support, store or display objects.
    We keep the old newspapers on the bottom shelf of the cupboard, and our photos on the top shelf.
    • 2012 October 31, David M. Halbfinger, "[1]," New York Times (retrieved 31 October 2012):
      Localities across New Jersey imposed curfews to prevent looting. In Monmouth, Ocean and other counties, people waited for hours for gasoline at the few stations that had electricity. Supermarket shelves were stripped bare.
  2. The capacity of such an object
    a shelf of videos
  3. A projecting ledge that resembles such an object.
  4. A reef, shoal or sandbar.
  5. (computing) The part of a repository where shelvesets are stored.
    • 2012, Bradley Irby, Reengineering .NET
      This is where the Visual Studio Shelving function can help. A shelf is a place on the server in source control that is separate from the main code line so it will not affect other developers.
    • 2016, Wouter de Kort, DevOps on the Microsoft Stack (page 114)
      A shelveset allows you to store a changeset on the server without adding it to the current codebase and sharing it with team members directly. Each team member has his own “shelf,” where he can store as many shelvesets as he wants.



Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit

Related termsEdit


  • Czech: šelf
  • Irish: seilf
  • Serbo-Croatian: šȅlf, ше̏лф
  • Welsh: silff


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.



Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of schelfe