View synonyms for heave


[ heev ]

verb (used with object)

, heaved or (especially Nautical) hove; heav·ing.
  1. to throw, especially to lift and throw with effort, force, or violence:

    The sailors began heaving the cargo overboard.

    I saw someone heave a brick through the window.

    Synonyms: sling, cast, fling, pitch, hurl

  2. to raise or lift with effort or force; hoist:

    He tried to heave the sledgehammer, but he wasn’t strong enough.

    Synonyms: elevate

  3. to utter laboriously or painfully:

    He heaved a sigh.

  4. to cause to rise and fall with or as if with a swelling motion:

    She stood there weeping, sobs heaving her chest as she covered her face.

  5. to vomit; throw up:

    He heaved his breakfast before noon.

  6. Nautical.
    1. to move into a certain position or situation:

      to heave a vessel aback.

    2. to move in a certain direction:

      Heave the capstan around! Heave up the anchor!

  7. to haul or pull on (a rope, cable, line, etc.) with the hands, a winch, a capstan, or the like:

    Heave the anchor cable!

verb (used without object)

, heaved or (especially Nautical) hove; heav·ing.
  1. to rise and fall in rhythmically alternate movements:

    The ship heaved and rolled in the swelling sea.

  2. to breathe with effort; pant:

    He sat there heaving and puffing from the exertion.

  3. to vomit or retch:

    The smell of the nearby meat processing plant made me heave.

  4. (of the ground, pavement, etc.) to rise as if thrust up; swell or bulge:

    The ground heaved and small fissures appeared for miles around.

    Repeated freezing and thawing will cause the pavement to heave.

    Synonyms: billow, surge

  5. to pull or haul on a rope, cable, etc.:

    We heaved on the rope with all our might, but the log did not budge.

  6. to push, as on a capstan bar.
  7. Nautical.
    1. to move in a certain direction or into a certain position or situation:

      heave about;

      heave alongside;

      heave in stays.

    2. (of a vessel) to rise and fall on high waves, especially waves passing at right angles to the ship.


  1. an act or effort of lifting, pulling, or pushing:

    With one mighty heave they managed to haul the unconscious man into the boat.

  2. a throw, toss, or cast:

    With a great heave, she threw the stone out of the garden bed.

  3. Informal. the act of rejecting or expelling, or the attempt to do so:

    The politician narrowly survived a heave by his own party.

  4. an effortful act of vomiting, retching, coughing, or sighing: Compare dry heaves ( def ).

    With a heave he coughed up the river water in his lungs.

    She turned away and bent over as a heave overcame her.

  5. Geology. the horizontal component of the apparent displacement resulting from a fault, measured in a vertical plane perpendicular to the strike.
  6. the rise and fall of the waves or swell of a sea:

    The ship’s motion is so stable, one doesn’t feel the heave of the ocean.

  7. heaves, (used with a singular verb) Also called broken wind. Veterinary Pathology. a disease of horses, similar to asthma in human beings, characterized by difficult breathing.

verb phrase

  1. Nautical. to careen (a vessel).
    1. Nautical. to stop the headway of (a vessel), especially by bringing the head to the wind and trimming the sails so that they act against one another.
    2. to come to a halt.
  2. Nautical.
    1. to shake loose (a reef taken in a sail).
    2. to loosen (a sail) from its gaskets in order to set it.


/ hiːv /


  1. tr to lift or move with a great effort
  2. tr to throw (something heavy) with effort
  3. to utter (sounds, sighs, etc) or breathe noisily or unhappily

    to heave a sigh

  4. to rise and fall or cause to rise and fall heavily
  5. past tense and past participle hove nautical
    1. to move or cause to move in a specified way, direction, or position

      to heave in sight

    2. intr (of a vessel) to pitch or roll
  6. tr to displace (rock strata, mineral veins, etc) in a horizontal direction
  7. intr to retch


  1. the act or an instance of heaving
  2. a fling
  3. the horizontal displacement of rock strata at a fault

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Derived Forms

  • ˈheaver, noun

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Other Words From

  • heav·er noun
  • heave·less adjective
  • un·heaved adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of heave1

First recorded before 900; Middle English heven, variant (with -v- from simple past tense and past participle) of hebben, Old English hebban; cognate with German heben, Old Norse hefja, Gothic hafjan; akin to Latin capere “to take”

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Word History and Origins

Origin of heave1

Old English hebban; related to Old Norse hefja, Old Saxon hebbian, Old High German heffen to raise, Latin capere to take, Sanskrit kapatī two hands full

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. heave ho, (an exclamation used by sailors, such as when heaving the anchor up.)
  2. heave in sight, to rise to view, such as from below the horizon:

    The ship hove in sight as dawn began to break.

  3. heave the lead. lead 2( def 17 ).

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Synonym Study

See raise.

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Example Sentences

The vertigo, which she described as “horrendous,” was accompanied by dry heaves and an inability to focus her eyes.

Then, Rogen convinces Franco to drink some contaminated water from a stream—which causes the 127 Hours Oscar nominee to dry-heave.

But Lomax can heave a small sigh of relief, at least for now: Legislative reform to the 1033 program will not happen in 2014.

The Chinook vibrated with deeper and deeper groans until its twin engines managed to heave up our dead weight.

But in a shocking turn of events, wrestling got eight of 14 votes and the heave-ho.

Ornstein is a friend of mine, and was a colleague until I was given the heave-ho from AEI in March 2010.

He watched her, saw the little body heave down its entire length, noted the small convulsive movements of it.

The men did “hold on” most powerfully; they did more, they hauled upon the rope, hand over hand, to a “Yo-heave-ho!”

The man roared furiously, and gave a convulsive heave that almost upset myself and the big chair, and disengaged the key!

No man on board knew when the sea might come which would heave her down, and they watched grimly as the gallant craft tore on.

Not another man stood on his feet, but the deck was strewn with the dead, whose bodies rolled about at every heave of the waves.


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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




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