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[sheeth] /ʃiθ/
noun, plural sheaths
[sheeth z] /ʃiðz/ (Show IPA)
a case or covering for the blade of a sword, dagger, or the like.
any similar close-fitting covering or case.
a condom.
Biology. a closely enveloping part or structure, as in an animal or plant.
Botany. the leaf base when it forms a vertical coating surrounding the stem.
a close-fitting dress, skirt, or coat, especially an unbelted dress with a straight drape.
Electricity. the metal covering of a cable.
  1. the metal wall of a wave guide.
  2. a space charge formed by ions near an electrode in a tube containing low-pressure gas.
  3. the region of a space charge in a cathode-ray tube.
verb (used with object)
to sheathe.
Origin of sheath
before 950; Middle English s(c)heth(e), Old English scēath; cognate with German Scheide; see shed2
Related forms
sheathless, adjective
sheathlike, sheathy, adjective
Can be confused
sheath, sheathe. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sheath
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • What make you, Alleyne, of these black lines which are drawn across the sheath?

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • And drawing his knife from its sheath, he flung it down at my feet.

    Green Mansions W. H. Hudson
  • sheath your swords, comrades; after all, it is no affair of ours.

    Fair Margaret H. Rider Haggard
  • He drew his short sword from its sheath, and scratched a deep mark in the gravel.

    Roden's Corner Henry Seton Merriman
  • He tried to draw it, failed, and looking all along the sheath, saw its condition.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede George MacDonald
British Dictionary definitions for sheath


noun (pl) sheaths (ʃiːðz)
a case or covering for the blade of a knife, sword, etc
any similar close-fitting case
(biology) an enclosing or protective structure, such as a leaf base encasing the stem of a plant
the protective covering on an electric cable
a figure-hugging dress with a narrow tapering skirt
another name for condom
(transitive) another word for sheathe
Word Origin
Old English scēath; related to Old Norse skeithir, Old High German sceida a dividing; compare Old English scādan to divide
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 sheath

Old English sceað, scæð, from Proto-Germanic *skaithiz (cf. Old Saxon scethia, Old Norse skeiðir (plural), Old Frisian skethe, Middle Dutch schede, Dutch schede, Old High German skaida, German scheide "a sheath, scabbard"), according to OED, possibly from root *skei- "divide, split" (see shed (v.)) on notion of a split stick with the sword blade inserted. Meaning "condom" is recorded from 1861; sense of "close-fitting dress or skirt" is attested from 1904.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sheath in Medicine

sheath (shēth)
n. pl. sheaths (shēðz, shēths)
An enveloping tubular structure, such as the tissue that encloses a muscle or nerve fiber.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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sheath in Science
An enveloping tubular structure, such as the base of a grass leaf that surrounds the stem or the tissue that encloses a muscle or nerve fiber.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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