1. a small indentation or recess in the shoreline of a sea, lake, or river.
  2. a sheltered nook.
  3. a hollow or recess in a mountain; cave; cavern.
  4. a narrow pass between woods or hills.
  5. a sheltered area between woods or hills.
  6. Architecture.
    1. a concave surface or molding.
    2. a concave surface forming part of a ceiling at its edge so as to eliminate the usual interior angle between the wall and ceiling.
verb (used with or without object), coved, cov·ing.
  1. to make or become a cove.

Origin of cove

before 900; Middle English; Old English cofa cave, den, closet; cognate with Old Norse kofi hut, Greek gýpē cave
Can be confusedbay cove gulf inlet Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for coved

Historical Examples of coved

  • The ceiling was coved, and surrounded by a rich frieze of carving.

    The Golden Dog

    William Kirby

  • These coved ceilings were introduced into England in the middle of the 17th century.

  • Its ceiling, coved like the other, seemed made of some self-radiating substance from which came both light and heat.

    The Blind Spot

    Austin Hall

  • These walls were painted in encaustic, corresponding with the coved ceiling, which was richly adorned in the same fashion.


    Benjamin Disraeli

  • The nave, too, is covered with a wooden roof, a kind of coved roof with tie-beams.

British Dictionary definitions for coved


  1. a small bay or inlet, usually between rocky headlands
  2. a narrow cavern formed in the sides of cliffs, mountains, etc, usually by erosion
  3. a sheltered place
  4. Also called: coving architect a concave curved surface between the wall and ceiling of a room
  1. (tr) to form an architectural cove in

Word Origin for cove

Old English cofa; related to Old Norse kofi, Old High German kubisi tent


  1. old-fashioned, slang, British and Australian a fellow; chap
  2. Australian history an overseer of convict labourers

Word Origin for cove

C16: probably from Romany kova thing, person
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 coved



early 14c., "den, cave," from Old English cofa "small chamber, cell," from Proto-Germanic *kubon (cf. Old High German kubisi "tent, hut," German Koben "pigsty," Old Norse kofi "hut, shed"). Extension of meaning to "small bay" is 1580s, apparently via Scottish dialectal meaning "small hollow place in coastal rocks" (a survival of an Old English secondary sense).



"fellow, chap," slang from at least 1560s, said to be from Romany (Gypsy) cova "that man."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper