verb (used with object), shelved, shelv·ing.

to place (something) on a shelf or shelves.
to put off or aside from consideration: to shelve the question.
to remove from active use or service; dismiss.
to furnish with shelves.

Origin of shelve

First recorded in 1585–95; v. use of shelve(s)
Related formsshelv·er, noun

Synonyms for shelve



verb (used without object), shelved, shelv·ing.

to slope gradually.

Origin of shelve

1580–90; origin uncertain; compare Frisian skelf not quite level Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shelve

Contemporary Examples of shelve

Historical Examples of shelve

  • It had previously been decided to shelve "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

    A Pirate of Parts

    Richard Neville

  • The idea was not altogether comfortable, and he tried to shelve it.

    The Master of the Shell

    Talbot Baines Reed

  • We'll shelve that part of the information bureau and work on other lines.

  • She is head on to the Sand, but the Sand does not shelve much, and her keel is pretty even.

    Storm Warriors

    John Gilmore

  • Believe me, they aren't going to shelve me just because one finger's gone!

British Dictionary definitions for shelve



verb (tr)

to place on a shelf
to provide with shelves
to put aside or postpone from consideration
to dismiss or cause to retire
Derived Formsshelver, noun

Word Origin for shelve

C16: from shelves, plural of shelf




(intr) to slope away gradually; incline

Word Origin for shelve

C16: origin uncertain
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 shelve

1590s, "to overhang," also "to provide with shelves," probably a back-formation from shelves, plural of shelf (n.1). Meaning "put on a shelf" first recorded 1650s; metaphoric sense of "lay aside, dismiss" is from 1812. Related: Shelved; shelving.


"to slope gradually," 1610s, from Middle English shelven "to slope," from shelfe "grassy slope," a word related to shelf (n.1). Related: Shelved; shelving.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper