1. a metal pin for passing through holes in two or more plates or pieces to hold them together, usually made with a head at one end, the other end being hammered into a head after insertion.
verb (used with object), riv·et·ed, riv·et·ing or (especially British) riv·et·ted, riv·et·ting.
  1. to fasten with a rivet or rivets.
  2. to hammer or spread out the end of (a pin, bolt, etc.) in order to form a head and secure something; clinch.
  3. to fasten or fix firmly.
  4. to hold (the eye, attention, etc.) firmly.

Origin of rivet

1350–1400; (noun) Middle English revette, rivette < Old French rivet, derivative of river to attach; (v.) Middle English revetten, derivative of the noun
Related formsriv·et·er, nounriv·et·less, adjectiveun·riv·et·ed, adjectiveun·riv·et·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rivets

Contemporary Examples of rivets

  • As with that earlier book, he rivets the reader to a plot of jarring contradictions.

    The Daily Beast logo
    A Witness to Hitler's Rise

    Zachary Shore

    May 27, 2011

Historical Examples of rivets

  • It was like as if hundreds of rivets were being hammered into the hide of the 'tank.'

  • Instead of rivets there came an invasion, an infliction, a visitation.

    Heart of Darkness

    Joseph Conrad

  • For in this play of Magda the Duse rivets interests, delights not by what she does, but by what she is.

    Hortus Vitae

    Violet Paget, AKA Vernon Lee

  • One of my wings has got some of the rivets out of it just above the joint.

  • You remember my spear with the thirty rivets of Arabian gold in its socket?

    Irish Fairy Tales

    James Stephens

British Dictionary definitions for rivets


  1. a short metal pin for fastening two or more pieces together, having a head at one end, the other end being hammered flat after being passed through holes in the pieces
verb -ets, -eting or -eted (tr)
  1. to join by riveting
  2. to hammer in order to form into a head
  3. (often passive) to cause to be fixed or held firmly, as in fascinated attention, horror, etcto be riveted to the spot
Derived Formsriveter, noun

Word Origin for rivet

C14: from Old French, from river to fasten, fix, of unknown 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 rivets



c.1400, from Old French rivet "nail, rivet," from Old French river "to clench, fix, fasten," possibly from Middle Dutch wriven "turn, grind," related to rive (v.). The English word may be directly from Middle Dutch.



early 15c., from rivet (n.). Meaning "to command the attention" is from c.1600. Related: Riveted; riveting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper