[ sleev ]
/ sliv /


the part of a garment that covers the arm, varying in form and length but commonly tubular.
an envelope, usually of paper, for protecting a phonograph record.
Machinery. a tubular piece, as of metal, fitting over a rod or the like.

verb (used with object), sleeved, sleev·ing.

to furnish with sleeves.
Machinery. to fit with a sleeve; join or fasten by means of a sleeve.

Nearby words

  1. sleepy,
  2. sleepy hollow chair,
  3. sleepyhead,
  4. sleet,
  5. sleety,
  6. sleeve board,
  7. sleeve coupling,
  8. sleeve dog,
  9. sleeve link,
  10. sleeve notes


    have something up one's sleeve, to have a secret plan, scheme, opinion, or the like: I could tell by her sly look that she had something up her sleeve.
    laugh up/in one's sleeve, to be secretly amused or contemptuous; laugh inwardly: to laugh up one's sleeve at someone's affectations.

Origin of sleeve

before 950; Middle English sleve, Old English slēfe (Anglian), slīefe; akin to Dutch sloof apron

Related formssleeve·like, adjectiveun·sleeved, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for laugh up one's sleeve


/ (sliːv) /



(tr) to provide with a sleeve or sleeves
Derived Formssleeveless, adjectivesleevelike, adjective

Word Origin for sleeve

Old English slīf, slēf; related to Dutch sloof apron

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 laugh up one's sleeve



Old English sliefe (West Saxon), slefe (Mercian) "arm-covering part of a garment," probably literally "that into which the arm slips," from Proto-Germanic *slaubjon (cf. Middle Low German sloven "to dress carelessly," Old High German sloufen "to put on or off"). Related to Old English slefan, sliefan "to slip on (clothes)" and slupan "to slip, glide," from PIE root *sleubh- "to slide, slip."

Cf. slipper, Old English slefescoh "slipper," slip (n.) "woman's garment," and expression to slip into "to dress in"). Mechanical sense is attested from 1864. To have something up one's sleeve is recorded from c.1500 (large sleeves formerly doubled as pockets). Meaning "the English Channel" translates French La Manche.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for laugh up one's sleeve

laugh up one's sleeve

To be secretly amused at something: “Arnie acted concerned over our plight, but we knew he was laughing up his sleeve.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with laugh up one's sleeve

laugh up one's sleeve

Rejoice or exult secretly, hide one's amusement, as in When she tripped over her bridal train, her sister couldn't help laughing up her sleeve. This expression replaced the earlier laugh in one's sleeve, used by Richard Sheridan in The Rivals (1775): “'Tis false, sir, I know you are laughing in your sleeve.” The expression, which alludes to hiding one's laughter in big loose sleeves, was already a proverb in the mid-1500s.


see card up one's sleeve; laugh up one's sleeve; roll up one's sleeves; wear one's heart on one's sleeve.

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