Origin of cave

1175–1225; Middle English < Old French < Late Latin cava (feminine singular), Latin cava, neuter plural of cavum hole, noun use of neuter of cavus hollow
Related formscave·like, adjective

cave canem

[kah-we kah-nem; English key-vee key-nuh m, kah-vey]


beware of the dog.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for cave

cavern, grotto, cavity, pothole, den, hollow, subterrane

Examples from the Web for cave

Contemporary Examples of cave

Historical Examples of cave

  • He is silent and abstracted, like one just returned from the cave of Trophonius.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Quite often the cave gave way to the pressure of the surrounding rock.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • She then returned to the mouth of the cave, and knelt down at Richard Digby's feet.

    The Man of Adamant

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • But he thrust his head into the cave, shivered, and congratulated himself.

    The Man of Adamant

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Tse-tse talked to the girl, of all things, about the love-gift she had put in the cave for me.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

British Dictionary definitions for cave




an underground hollow with access from the ground surface or from the sea, often found in limestone areas and on rocky coastlines
British history a secession or a group seceding from a political party on some issueSee Adullamite
(modifier) living in caves


(tr) to hollow out
See also cave in, caving

Word Origin for cave

C13: from Old French, from Latin cava, plural of cavum cavity, from cavus hollow




guard or lookout (esp in the phrase keep cave)

sentence substitute

watch out!

Word Origin for cave

from Latin cavē! beware!
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 cave

early 13c., from Old French cave "a cave, vault, cellar" (12c.), from Latin cavea "hollow" (place), noun use of neuter plural of adjective cavus "hollow," from PIE root *keue- "a swelling, arch, cavity" (see cumulus). Replaced Old English eorðscrafu. First record of cave man is 1865.


early 15c., caven, "to hollow something out," from cave (n.). Modern sense "to collapse in or down" is 1707, American English, presumably from East Anglian dialectal calve "collapse, fall in," perhaps from Flemish; subsequently influenced by cave (n.). Transitive sense by 1762. Related: Caved; caving. Figurative sense of "yield to pressure" is from 1837.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cave in Science



A naturally occurring underground hollow or passage, especially one with an opening to the surface of the Earth. Caves can form through a variety of processes, including the dissolution of limestone by flowing water, the differential cooling of volcanic magma (which occurs when the outside surface of the lava cools, but the inside continues to flow downwards, forming a hollow tube), or the action of wind and waves along a rocky coast.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.