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verb (used without object), roved, rov·ing.
  1. to wander about without definite destination; move hither and thither at random, especially over a wide area.
verb (used with object), roved, rov·ing.
  1. to wander over or through; traverse: to rove the woods.
  1. an act or instance of roving.

Origin of rove1

1490–1500; orig., to shoot at a random target; perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Old Norse rāfa to stray; but compare also Old French raver to roam


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1. stroll, amble, stray. See roam.


  1. a simple past tense and past participle of reeve2.


verb (used with object), roved, rov·ing.
  1. to form (slivers of wool, cotton, etc.) into slightly twisted strands in a preparatory process of spinning.
  2. to draw fibers or the like through an eye or other small opening.
  3. to attenuate, compress, and twist slightly in carding.
  1. British. roving2.

Origin of rove3

First recorded in 1780–90; of obscure origin


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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rove

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Thus all concentrates: let us not rove; let us sit at home with the cause.

    Essays, First Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • As I was about to speak, however, he said suddenly: "Let's rove, man."

  • They do not by any means destroy the land over which they rove.

    A Labrador Doctor

    Wilfred Thomason Grenfell

  • But he didn't leave it until he had rove the new rope, and he got back all right.

    Man Overboard!

    F(rancis) Marion Crawford

  • Never once did he allow his eyes to rove over to the table opposite.

    The Rover Boys Under Canvas

    Arthur M. Winfield

British Dictionary definitions for rove


  1. to wander about (a place) with no fixed direction; roam
  2. (intr) (of the eyes) to look around; wander
  3. have a roving eye to show a widespread amorous interest in the opposite sex
  4. (intr) Australian rules football to play as a rover
  1. the act of roving

Word Origin

C15 roven (in archery) to shoot at a target chosen at random (C16: to wander, stray), from Scandinavian; compare Icelandic rāfa to wander


  1. (tr) to pull out and twist (fibres of wool, cotton, etc) lightly, as before spinning or in carding
  1. wool, cotton, etc, thus prepared

Word Origin

C18: of obscure origin


  1. a metal plate through which a rivet is passed and then clenched over

Word Origin

C15: from Scandinavian; compare Icelandic ro


  1. a past tense and past participle of reeve 2


  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 rove


"to wander with no fixed destination," 1530s (earliest sense was "to shoot arrows at a mark selected at pleasure or at random," late 15c.); possibly a Midlands dialectal variant of northern English and Scottish rave "to wander, stray," from Middle English raven, probably from Old Norse rafa "to wander, rove" (cf. rave (v.)). Influenced by rover, if not a back-formation from it. Related: Roved; roving.



"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