- one of the thin, narrow, shaped pieces of wood that form the sides of a cask, tub, or similar vessel.
- a stick, rod, pole, or the like.
- a rung of a ladder, chair, etc.
- a verse or stanza of a poem or song.
- the alliterating sound in a line of verse, as the w-sound in wind in the willows.
- Music. staff1(def 10).
- to break in a stave or staves of (a cask or barrel) so as to release the wine, liquor, or other contents.
- to release (wine, liquor, etc.) by breaking the cask or barrel.
- to break or crush (something) inward (often followed by in).
- to break (a hole) in, especially in the hull of a boat.
- to break to pieces; splinter; smash.
- to furnish with a stave or staves.
- to beat with a stave or staff.
- to become staved in, as a boat; break in or up.
- to move along rapidly.
- stave off,
- to put, ward, or keep off, as by force or evasion.
- to prevent in time; forestall: He wasn't able to stave off bankruptcy.
Origin of stave
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- (tr, adverb) to avert or hold off (something undesirable or harmful), esp temporarilyto stave off hunger
- any one of a number of long strips of wood joined together to form a barrel, bucket, boat hull, etc
- any of various bars, slats, or rods, usually of wood, such as a rung of a ladder or a crosspiece bracing the legs of a chair
- any stick, staff, etc
- a stanza or verse of a poem
- Britishan individual group of five lines and four spaces used in staff notation
- another word for staff 1 (def. 9)
- (often foll by in) to break or crush (the staves of a boat, barrel, etc) or (of the staves of a boat) to be broken or crushed
- (tr usually foll by in) to burst or force (a hole in something)
- (tr) to provide (a ladder, chair, etc) with a stave or staves
- (tr) Scot to sprain (a finger, toe, etc)
Word Origin and History for stave off
"piece of a barrel," 1750, back-formation from staves (late 14c.), plural of staff (cf. leaves/leaf), possibly from Old English, but not recorded there. The verb (to stave in, past tense stove) is 1590s, originally nautical, on notion of bashing in the staves of a cask and letting out the contents; stave off (1620s) is literally "keep off with a staff," as of dogs.
Idioms and Phrases with stave off
Keep or hold away, repel, as in The Federal Reserve Board is determined to stave off inflation. This metaphoric expression transfers beating something off with a staff or stave to nonphysical repulsion. [c. 1600]