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Back-formation from staves, the plural of staff.


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stave (plural staves)

  1. One of a number of narrow strips of wood, or narrow iron plates, placed edge to edge to form the sides, covering, or lining of a vessel or structure; especially, one of the strips which form the sides of a cask, a pail, etc.
  2. One of the bars or rounds of a rack, rungs of a ladder, etc; one of the cylindrical bars of a lantern wheel
  3. (poetry) A metrical portion; a stanza; a staff.
    • Wordsworth
      Let us chant a passing stave / In honour of that hero brave.
  4. (music) The five horizontal and parallel lines on and between which musical notes are written or pointed; the staff.
  5. A staff or walking stick.
  6. A sign, symbol or sigil, including rune or rune-like characters, used in Icelandic magic.


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stave (third-person singular simple present staves, present participle staving, simple past and past participle stove or staved)

  1. (transitive) To break in the staves of; to break a hole in; to burst. Often with in.
    to stave in a cask
    • 1743, Robert Drury, The Pleasant, and Surprizing Adventures of Mr. Robert Drury, during his Fifteen Years Captivity on the Island of Madagascar, London, p. 12,[1]
      A great Sea constant runs here upon the Rocks, and before they got to Land their Boat was stav’d in Pieces []
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick, chapter 22
      Be careful in the hunt, ye mates. Don’t stave the boats needlessly, ye harpooneers; good white cedar plank is raised full three per cent within the year.
    • 1914, Edgar Rice Burrows, The Mucker[2], HTML edition, The Gutenberg Project, published 2009:
      …for the jagged butt of the fallen mast was dashing against the ship's side with such vicious blows that it seemed but a matter of seconds ere it would stave a hole in her.
  2. (transitive) To push, as with a staff. With off.
    • South
      The condition of a servant staves him off to a distance.
  3. (transitive) To delay by force or craft; to drive away. Often with off.
    to stave off the execution of a project
    • Tennyson
      And answered with such craft as women use, / Guilty or guilties, to stave off a chance / That breaks upon them perilously.
  4. (intransitive) To burst in pieces by striking against something.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 7:
      And therefore three cheers for Nantucket; and come a stove boat and stove body when they will, for stave my soul, Jove himself cannot.
  5. (intransitive) To walk or move rapidly.
  6. To suffer, or cause to be lost by breaking the cask.
    • Sandys
      All the wine in the city has been staved.
  7. To furnish with staves or rundles.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Knolles to this entry?)
  8. To render impervious or solid by driving with a calking iron.
    to stave lead, or the joints of pipes into which lead has been run

Derived termsEdit



Norwegian BokmålEdit


From Old Norse stafa


stave (imperative stav, present tense staver, simple past and past participle stava or stavet, present participle stavende)

  1. to spell (words)

Derived termsEdit