Often shavings. a very thin piece or slice, especially of wood.
the act of a person or thing that shaves.

Origin of shaving

Middle English word dating back to 1325–75; see origin at shave, -ing1



verb (used without object), shaved, shaved or (especially in combination) shav·en, shav·ing.

to remove a growth of beard with a razor.

verb (used with object), shaved, shaved or (especially in combination) shav·en, shav·ing.

to remove hair from (the face, legs, etc.) by cutting it off close to the skin with a razor.
to cut off (hair, especially the beard) close to the skin with a razor (often followed by off or away).
to cut or scrape away the surface of with a sharp-edged tool: to shave hides in preparing leather.
to reduce to shavings or thin slices: to shave wood.
to cut or trim closely: to shave a lawn.
to scrape, graze, or come very near to: The car just shaved the garage door.
Commerce. to purchase (a note) at a rate of discount greater than is legal or customary.
to reduce or deduct from: The store shaved the price of winter suits in the spring.


the act, process, or an instance of shaving or being shaved.
a thin slice; a shaving.
any of various tools for shaving, scraping, removing thin slices, etc.

Origin of shave

before 900; (v.) Middle English schaven, schafen, Old English sc(e)afan; cognate with Dutch schaven to plane (a plank), abrade (the skin), Low German schaven, German schaben, Old Norse skafa to scrape, Gothic skaban to shear, shave; (noun) Middle English schave tool for shaving, Old English sc(e)afa, derivative of the v.
Related formsshav·a·ble, shave·a·ble, adjectivere·shave, verb re·shaved, re·shav·ing.un·shav·a·ble, adjectiveun·shave·a·ble, adjectiveun·shaved, adjectivewell-shaved, adjective

Synonyms for shave Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shaving

Contemporary Examples of shaving

Historical Examples of shaving

  • "It came white after my shaving by a sainted barber in the Holy House," said Castell.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • Either I shall go free, or I shall go to be made ready for shaving.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • I was shaving during this monologue of Mammy's, with my back to her.

  • As he was shaving that morning, he had faltered in his resolution.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • "It was rather silly of you to hesitate," replied Pierre, who was shaving.

British Dictionary definitions for shaving



a thin paring or slice, esp of wood, that has been shaved from something


used when shaving the face, etcshaving cream


verb shaves, shaving, shaved, shaved or shaven (mainly tr)

(also intr) to remove (the beard, hair, etc) from (the face, head, or body) by scraping the skin with a razor
to cut or trim very closely
to reduce to shavings
to remove thin slices from (wood, etc) with a sharp cutting tool; plane or pare
to touch or graze in passing
informal to reduce (a price) by a slight amount
US commerce to purchase (a commercial paper) at a greater rate of discount than is customary or legal


the act or an instance of shaving
any tool for scraping
a thin slice or shaving
an instance of barely touching something
close shave informal a narrow escape
Derived Formsshavable or shaveable, adjective

Word Origin for shave

Old English sceafan; related to Old Norse skafa, Gothic skaban to shave, Latin scabere to scrape
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 shaving

"act of removing hair with a razor," also "thin slice taken off," late 14c., verbal noun from shave (v.).



Old English sceafan (strong verb, past tense scof, past participle scafen), "to scrape, shave, polish," from Proto-Germanic *skaban (cf. Old Norse skafa, Middle Dutch scaven, German schaben, Gothic skaban "scratch, shave, scrape"), from PIE *skabh-, collateral form of root *(s)kep- "to cut, to scrape, to hack" (see scabies). Related: Shaved; shaving. Original strong verb status is preserved in past tense form shaven. Specifically in reference to cutting the hair close from mid-13c. Figurative sense of "to strip (someone) of money or possessions" is attested from late 14c.



c.1600, "something shaved off;" from shave (v.); Old English sceafa meant "tool for shaving." Meaning "operation of shaving" is from 1838. Meaning "a grazing touch" is recorded from 1834. Phrase a close shave is from 1856, on notion of "a slight, grazing touch."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with shaving


see close call (shave).

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