[ 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.

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)

Words Nearby cleavers Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use cleavers in a sentence

  • One woman faced down the two alleged killers who used cleavers and carving knives to hack a soldier to death in London.

  • Some people swear by cleavers; others (like me) are terrified by them.

    The 2012 Holiday Kitchen Gift Guide | Megan McArdle | December 13, 2012 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • The antique fireplace and the ancient mantelpiece were forced to keep company with meat blocks and butchers' cleavers.

    Duffels | Edward Eggleston
  • The glaciers are separated by narrow ledges called cleavers, or by each occupying its own deep cañon.

    Your National Parks | Enos A. Mills
  • Then there arrived the butchers, with their marrowbones and cleavers, and began to make their music with zeal.

    The Lady of Lynn | Walter Besant
  • It was formerly the custom for butchers' assistants to provide themselves with marrow-bones and cleavers for musical effects.

    Charles Dickens and Music | James T. Lightwood
  • The men who play the bells have got scent of the marriage; and the marrow-bones and cleavers too; and a brass band too.

    Charles Dickens and Music | James T. Lightwood

British Dictionary definitions for cleavers


/ (ˈkliːvəz) /

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

Origin of cleavers

Old English clīfe; related to clīfan to cleave ²

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