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90s Slang You Should Know


[steyv] /steɪv/
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.
  1. a verse or stanza of a poem or song.
  2. the alliterating sound in a line of verse, as the w- sound in wind in the willows.
Music. staff1 (def 10).
verb (used with object), staved or stove, staving.
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.
verb (used without object), staved or stove, staving.
to become staved in, as a boat; break in or up.
to move along rapidly.
Verb phrases
stave off,
  1. to put, ward, or keep off, as by force or evasion.
  2. to prevent in time; forestall:
    He wasn't able to stave off bankruptcy.
Origin of stave
1125-75; (noun) Middle English, back formation from staves; (v.) derivative of the noun
Related forms
unstaved, adjective
4. See verse. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for staving
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Ten of the colonists volunteered for the service, and were provided from the storehouse with axes for staving in the boards.

  • He was staving drunk, and went forward, as I thought, to get up his anchor.

    The Yacht Club Oliver Optic
  • The boat rowed in and was kept from staving in her keel on the land-wash by Nolan and his men.

    The Harbor Master Theodore Goodridge Roberts
  • Yes, Lizzy, I know it, but I had been staving off this hour for many and many a year.

    Davenport Dunn, Volume 2 (of 2) Charles James Lever
  • He was waiting for me, staving off as best he could the rush of bodies around him; shielding Hope from the savage jostling.

    The Infra-Medians Sewell Peaslee Wright
  • A stick fell plump upon the bottom of the tub, staving it in.

    The Backwoodsmen Charles G. D. Roberts
  • I went out of the Mission and got blind, staving drunk; was hardly able to get up stairs to my bed at eleven o'clock, at night.

  • Lucy had only been staving off the unpleasantness she had to speak.

British Dictionary definitions for staving


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
  1. (Brit) an individual group of five lines and four spaces used in staff notation
  2. another word for staff1 (sense 9)
verb staves, staving, staved, stove
(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
(transitive) usually foll by in. to burst or force (a hole in something)
(transitive) to provide (a ladder, chair, etc) with a stave or staves
(transitive) (Scot) to sprain (a finger, toe, etc)
Word Origin
C14: back formation from staves, plural of staff1
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 staving



"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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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