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  1. an administrative officer of a town or district.
  2. British. an overseer or superintendent of workers, tenants, or an estate.
  3. British. (formerly) a person of high rank representing the crown.
  4. Canadian. the presiding officer of a village or town council.

Origin of reeve1

before 900; Middle English (i)reve, Old English gerēfa high official, literally, head of a rōf array, number (of soldiers); cf. sheriff


verb (used with object), rove or reeved, ro·ven or reeved, reev·ing. Nautical.
  1. to pass (a rope or the like) through a hole, ring, or the like.
  2. to fasten by placing through or around something.
  3. to pass a rope through (the swallow of a block).

Origin of reeve2

1620–30; < Dutch reven to reef; see reef2


  1. the female of the ruff, Philomachus pugnax.

Origin of reeve3

First recorded in 1625–35; origin uncertain
Also called ree.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for reeve


  1. English history the local representative of the king in a shire (under the ealdorman) until the early 11th centuryCompare sheriff
  2. (in medieval England) a manorial steward who supervised the daily affairs of the manor: often a villein elected by his fellows
  3. canadian government (in certain provinces) a president of a local council, esp in a rural area
  4. (formerly) a minor local official in any of several parts of England and the US

Word Origin

Old English gerēva; related to Old High German ruova number, array


verb reeves, reeving, reeved or rove (rəʊv) (tr) nautical
  1. to pass (a rope or cable) through an eye or other narrow opening
  2. to fasten by passing through or around something

Word Origin

C17: perhaps from Dutch rēven reef ²


  1. the female of the ruff (the bird)

Word Origin

C17: of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for reeve


"steward," Old English gerefa "king's officer," of unknown origin and with no known cognates. Not connected to German Graf (see margrave). An Anglo-Saxon official of high rank, having local jurisdiction under a king. Cf. sheriff.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper