1. a collapse, as of anything hollow: the worst cave-in in the history of mining.
  2. a place or site of such a collapse.
  3. submission to something or someone previously opposed or resisted: His cave-in to such unreasonable demands shocked us.

Origin of cave-in

First recorded in 1700–10; noun use of verb phrase cave in


  1. a hollow in the earth, especially one opening more or less horizontally into a hill, mountain, etc.
  2. a storage cellar, especially for wine.
  3. English History. a secession, or a group of seceders, from a political party on some special question.
verb (used with object), caved, cav·ing.
  1. to hollow out.
  2. Mining.
    1. to cause (overlying material) to fall into a stope, sublevel, or the like.
    2. to cause (supports, as stulls or sets) to collapse beneath overlying material.
    3. to fill (a stope or the like) with caved-in material: sub-level caving.
verb (used without object), caved, cav·ing.
  1. to cave in.
Verb Phrases
  1. cave in,
    1. to fall in; collapse.
    2. to cause to fall in or collapse.
    3. yield; submit; surrender: The opposition caved in before our superior arguments.

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

British Dictionary definitions for cavein


  1. an underground hollow with access from the ground surface or from the sea, often found in limestone areas and on rocky coastlines
  2. British history a secession or a group seceding from a political party on some issueSee Adullamite
  3. (modifier) living in caves
  1. (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


  1. guard or lookout (esp in the phrase keep cave)
sentence substitute
  1. 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 cavein



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

cavein in Science


  1. 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.