cleavers

[klee-verz]
noun, plural cleav·ers.
  1. a North American plant, Galium aparine, of the madder family, having short, hooked bristles on the stems and leaves and bearing very small white flowers.
  2. any of certain related species.
Also clivers.

Origin of cleavers

before 1000; Middle English clivre, Old English clife burdock (-re probably by association with Middle English clivres (plural) claws, or with the agent noun from cleven to cleave1, whence the modern spelling)
Also called catchweed, goose grass.

cleaver

[klee-ver]
noun
  1. a heavy, broad-bladed knife or long-bladed hatchet, especially one used by butchers for cutting meat into joints or pieces.
  2. a person or thing that cleaves.

Origin of cleaver

First recorded in 1325–75, cleaver is from the Middle English word clevere. See cleave2, -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for cleavers

foe, hatchet, river, knife, axe

Examples from the Web for cleavers

Contemporary Examples of cleavers

Historical Examples of cleavers

  • A tremendous noise of cleavers and pans came from the kitchen.

  • The antique fireplace and the ancient mantelpiece were forced to keep company with meat blocks and butchers' cleavers.

    Duffels

    Edward Eggleston

  • Before him was a glass counter wherein were displayed knives and cleavers and scissors and other cutlery.

    Stubble

    George Looms

  • The town might follow us to church with a serenade of marrowbones and cleavers, as they do the butchers.

  • "Galium tricorne," very much like common goose-grass or cleavers, but rare in England, and quite unknown in this neighbourhood.

    In a Cheshire Garden

    Geoffrey Egerton-Warburton


British Dictionary definitions for cleavers

cleavers

noun
  1. (functioning as singular) a Eurasian rubiaceous plant, Galium aparine, having small white flowers and prickly stems and fruitsAlso called: goosegrass, hairif, sticky willie

Word Origin for cleavers

Old English clīfe; related to clīfan to cleave ²

cleaver

noun
  1. a heavy knife or long-bladed hatchet, esp one used by butchers
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 cleavers

cleaver

n.

late 15c., "one who splits," agent noun from cleave (v.1). Originally "one who splits boards with a wedge instead of sawing;" attested as part of a surname from mid-14c. Meaning "butcher's chopper" is from mid-15c.

This last ["Marrowbones and Cleaver"] is a sign in Fetter Lane, originating from a custom, now rapidly dying away, of the butcher boys serenading newly married couples with these professional instruments. Formerly, the band would consist of four cleavers, each of a different tone, or, if complete, of eight, and by beating their marrowbones skilfully against these, they obtained a sort of music somewhat after the fashion of indifferent bell-ringing. When well performed, however, and heard from a proper distance, it was not altogether unpleasant. ... The butchers of Clare market had the reputation of being the best performers. ... This music was once so common that Tom Killigrew called it the national instrument of England. [Larwood & Hotten, "The History of Signboards from the Earliest Times to the Present Day," London, 1867]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cleavers in Science

cleaver

[klēvər]
  1. A bifacial stone tool flaked to produce a straight, sharp, relatively wide edge at one end. Cleavers are early core tools associated primarily with the Acheulian tool culture.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.