- a space or opening made by cleavage; a split.
- a division formed by cleaving.
- a hollow area or indentation: a chin with a cleft.
- Veterinary Pathology. a crack on the bend of the pastern of a horse.
Origin of cleft1
SynonymsSee more synonyms for cleft on Thesaurus.com
- a simple past tense and past participle of cleave2.
- cloven; split; divided.
- (of a leaf, corolla, lobe, or other expanded plant part) having divisions formed by incisions or narrow sinuses that extend more than halfway to the midrib or the base.
Origin of cleft2
- to adhere closely; stick; cling (usually followed by to).
- to remain faithful (usually followed by to): to cleave to one's principles in spite of persecution.
Origin of cleave1
- to split or divide by or as if by a cutting blow, especially along a natural line of division, as the grain of wood.
- to make by or as if by cutting: to cleave a path through the wilderness.
- to penetrate or pass through (air, water, etc.): The bow of the boat cleaved the water cleanly.
- to cut off; sever: to cleave a branch from a tree.
- to part or split, especially along a natural line of division.
- to penetrate or advance by or as if by cutting (usually followed by through).
Origin of cleave2
SynonymsSee more synonyms for cleave on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for cleft
Like the Korean Peninsula, Illinois is cleft into two parts: Chicagoland and “downstate.”Romney and Santorum Face Off: 5 Things To Watch For In Illinois
March 19, 2012
We could see the shafts of the darts fast in the cleft, bristling in the moonlight.The Trail Book
Nelson was at this time, according to his own expression, placed in a cleft stick.The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson
Put them, one at a time, into the cleft or split end of the larding-needle.Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches
It was almost forty minutes to the dot when Hilary's head emerged from the cleft.Slaves of Mercury
Pinnatifid: divided into feathers, as when wings are cleft nearly to the base.Explanation of Terms Used in Entomology
John. B. Smith
- the past tense and a past participle of cleave 1
- a fissure or crevice
- an indentation or split in something, such as the chin, palate, etc
- split; divided
- (of leaves) having one or more incisions reaching nearly to the midrib
- to split or cause to split, esp along a natural weakness
- (tr) to make by or as if by cuttingto cleave a path
- (when intr, foll by through) to penetrate or traverse
- (intr foll by to) to cling or adhere
Word Origin and History for cleft
1570s, alteration (by influence of cleft, new weak past participle of cleave (v.1)), of Middle English clift (early 14c.), from Old English geclyft (adj.) "split, cloven," from Proto-Germanic *kluftis (cf. Old High German and German kluft, Danish kløft "cleft"), from PIE *gleubh- (see glyph). In Middle English anatomy, it meant "the parting of the thighs" (early 14c.).
late 14c., past participle adjective from cleave (v.1)). Cleft palate attested from 1828.
"to split," Old English cleofan, cleven, cliven "to split, separate" (class II strong verb, past tense cleaf, past participle clofen), from Proto-Germanic *kleubanan (cf. Old Saxon klioban, Old Norse kljufa, Danish klöve, Dutch kloven, Old High German klioban, German klieben "to cleave, split"), from PIE root *gleubh- "to cut, slice" (see glyph).
Past tense form clave is recorded in Northern writers from 14c. and was used with both verbs (see cleave (v.2)), apparently by analogy with other Middle English strong verbs. Clave was common to c.1600 and still alive at the time of the KJV; weak past tense cleaved for this verb also emerged in 14c.; cleft is still later. The past participle cloven survives, though mostly in compounds.
"to adhere," Middle English cleven, clevien, cliven, from Old English clifian, cleofian, from West Germanic *klibajanan (cf. Old Saxon klibon, Old High German kliban, Dutch kleven, Old High German kleben, German kleben "to stick, cling, adhere"), from PIE *gloi- "to stick" (see clay). The confusion was less in Old English when cleave (v.1) was a class 2 strong verb; but it has grown since cleave (v.1) weakened, which may be why both are largely superseded by stick (v.) and split (v.).
- A split or fissure between two parts.