verb (used with object), heaved or (especially Nautical) hove; heav·ing.
  1. to raise or lift with effort or force; hoist: to heave a heavy ax.
  2. to throw, especially to lift and throw with effort, force, or violence: to heave an anchor overboard; to heave a stone through a window.
  3. 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!
  4. to utter laboriously or painfully: to heave a sigh.
  5. to cause to rise and fall with or as with a swelling motion: to heave one's chest.
  6. to vomit; throw up: He heaved his breakfast before noon.
  7. to haul or pull on (a rope, cable, line, etc.), as with the hands or a capstan: 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 effort.
  3. to vomit; retch.
  4. to rise as if thrust up, as a hill; swell or bulge: The ground heaved and small fissures appeared for miles around.
  5. to pull or haul on a rope, cable, etc.
  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, as with a heavy beam sea.
  1. an act or effort of heaving.
  2. a throw, toss, or cast.
  3. Geology. the horizontal component of the apparent displacement resulting from a fault, measured in a vertical plane perpendicular to the strike.
  4. the rise and fall of the waves or swell of a sea.
  5. 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 Phrases
  1. heave down, Nautical. to careen (a vessel).
  2. heave out, Nautical.
    1. to shake loose (a reef taken in a sail).
    2. to loosen (a sail) from its gaskets in order to set it.
  3. heave to,
    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.
  1. heave ho (an exclamation used by sailors, as when heaving the anchor up.)
  2. heave in sight, to rise to view, as from below the horizon: The ship hove in sight as dawn began to break.
  3. heave the lead. lead2(def 16).

Origin of heave

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
Related formsheav·er, nounheave·less, adjectiveun·heaved, adjective

Synonyms for heave

1. elevate. See raise. 2. hurl, pitch, fling, cast, sling. 11. surge, billow.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for heaves

Historical Examples of heaves

  • He wears the look of one who is gnawed with envy, and he heaves the sigh of despair.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • And then I only had him for the heaves—for the horse—a horse doctor, I mean.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Suddenly the sea of blood which is me heaves and rushes towards the sea of blood which is her.

  • Go down to the berth again, and say that we will call you when it heaves in sight.

    The Three Midshipmen

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • Sir Asinus heaves a sigh, and contemplates a declaration immediately.

British Dictionary definitions for heaves


noun (functioning as singular or plural)
  1. Also called: broken wind a chronic respiratory disorder of animals of the horse family caused by allergies and dust
  2. the heaves slang an attack of vomiting or retching


verb heaves, heaving or heaved or mainly nautical hove
  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 unhappilyto 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 positionto 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
Derived Formsheaver, noun

Word Origin for heave

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
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 heaves



1570s, from heave (v.).



Old English hebban "to lift, raise; lift up, exalt" (class VI strong verb; past tense hof, past participle hafen), from Proto-Germanic *hafjan (cf. Old Norse hefja, Dutch heffen, German heben, Gothic hafjan "to lift, raise"), from PIE *kap-yo-, from root *kap- "to grasp" (see capable).

Related to Old English habban "to hold, possess." Intransitive use by c.1200. Meaning "to throw" is from 1590s. Sense of "retch, make an effort to vomit" is first attested c.1600. Related: Heaved; heaving. Nautical heave-ho was a chant in lifting (c.1300, hevelow).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper