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[riv-it] /ˈrɪv ɪt/
a metal pin for passing through holes in two or more plates or pieces to hold them together, usually made with a head at one end, the other end being hammered into a head after insertion.
verb (used with object), riveted, riveting or (especially British) rivetted, rivetting.
to fasten with a rivet or rivets.
to hammer or spread out the end of (a pin, bolt, etc.) in order to form a head and secure something; clinch.
to fasten or fix firmly.
to hold (the eye, attention, etc.) firmly.
Origin of rivet
1350-1400; (noun) Middle English revette, rivette < Old French rivet, derivative of river to attach; (v.) Middle English revetten, derivative of the noun
Related forms
riveter, noun
rivetless, adjective
unriveted, adjective
unriveting, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for rivets
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was like as if hundreds of rivets were being hammered into the hide of the 'tank.'

  • Instead of rivets there came an invasion, an infliction, a visitation.

    Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
  • For in this play of Magda the Duse rivets interests, delights not by what she does, but by what she is.

    Hortus Vitae Violet Paget, AKA Vernon Lee
  • One of my wings has got some of the rivets out of it just above the joint.

    The Book of Dragons Edith Nesbit
  • You remember my spear with the thirty rivets of Arabian gold in its socket?

    Irish Fairy Tales James Stephens
  • Nails and rivets were with difficulty got to hold in the sides of the old Indianian.

    Richard Carvel, Complete Winston Churchill
  • The workmen made a great noise with their hammers, heading the rivets.

    Rollo in Scotland Jacob Abbott
  • All these pieces are tied together with thongs, rivets not being used at all.

    The Central Eskimo Franz Boas
  • The outlines are in part dependent in character, controlled by rivets.

    Industrial Arts Design William H. Varnum
British Dictionary definitions for rivets


a short metal pin for fastening two or more pieces together, having a head at one end, the other end being hammered flat after being passed through holes in the pieces
verb (transitive) -ets, -eting, -eted
to join by riveting
to hammer in order to form into a head
(often passive) to cause to be fixed or held firmly, as in fascinated attention, horror, etc: to be riveted to the spot
Derived Forms
riveter, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, from river to fasten, fix, of unknown 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
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Word Origin and History for rivets



c.1400, from Old French rivet "nail, rivet," from Old French river "to clench, fix, fasten," possibly from Middle Dutch wriven "turn, grind," related to rive (v.). The English word may be directly from Middle Dutch.



early 15c., from rivet (n.). Meaning "to command the attention" is from c.1600. Related: Riveted; riveting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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