verb (used with object), rove or reeved, ro·ven or reeved, reev·ing. Nautical.
  1. to pass (a rope or the like) through a hole, ring, or the like.
  2. to fasten by placing through or around something.
  3. to pass a rope through (the swallow of a block).

Origin of reeve

1620–30; < Dutch reven to reef; see reef2 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for reeving

Historical Examples of reeving

  • The next operation was the reeving of the ropes over the wheels of the pulley.

  • The reeving of yard-ropes was his idea, though he disclaimed it.

  • Slops paused in his hauling and reeving to shake a fist at Solomon.

  • It was accomplished by reeving a line from hole to hole by means of the long slender pole already mentioned.

  • Two days after seeing the land, a boy fell from the fore-top-gallant yard, while reeving the studding-sail halyards.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for reeving


  1. English history the local representative of the king in a shire (under the ealdorman) until the early 11th centuryCompare sheriff
  2. (in medieval England) a manorial steward who supervised the daily affairs of the manor: often a villein elected by his fellows
  3. canadian government (in certain provinces) a president of a local council, esp in a rural area
  4. (formerly) a minor local official in any of several parts of England and the US

Word Origin for reeve

Old English gerēva; related to Old High German ruova number, array


verb reeves, reeving, reeved or rove (rəʊv) (tr) nautical
  1. to pass (a rope or cable) through an eye or other narrow opening
  2. to fasten by passing through or around something

Word Origin for reeve

C17: perhaps from Dutch rēven reef ²


  1. the female of the ruff (the bird)

Word Origin for reeve

C17: of uncertain origin
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 reeving



"steward," Old English gerefa "king's officer," of unknown origin and with no known cognates. Not connected to German Graf (see margrave). An Anglo-Saxon official of high rank, having local jurisdiction under a king. Cf. sheriff.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper