- plural of shelf.
- a thin slab of wood, metal, etc., fixed horizontally to a wall or in a frame, for supporting objects.
- the contents of this: a shelf of books.
- a surface or projection resembling this; ledge.
- Physical Geography.
- a sandbank or submerged extent of rock in the sea or river.
- the bedrock underlying an alluvial deposit or the like.
- continental shelf.
- Archery. the upper part of the bow hand, on which the arrow rests.
- off the shelf, readily available from merchandise in stock: Any of those parts can be purchased off the shelf.
- on the shelf, Informal.
- put aside temporarily; postponed.
- inactive; useless.
- without prospects of marriage, as after having broken an engagement.
Origin of shelf
Origin of shelve1
SynonymsSee more synonyms for shelve on Thesaurus.com
- to slope gradually.
Origin of shelve2
Examples from the Web for shelves
Once you fill in the book, you send it back where it joins the others on the shelves and travels with the annual touring trip.Blurred Lines at NY Sketchbook Museum
November 1, 2014
The men preside over three display cases, each with three shelves, seven comic books per shelf.The Holy Grail of Comic Books Hid in Plain Site at New York Comic Con
October 14, 2014
They line the shelves of museums, hotels, design stores and fashion retailers.The Winning Gay Subtlety of ‘Hello Mr.’
September 26, 2014
But in the United States, finally, Coors pulled the drink off the shelves completely in 2008.In Japan, Zima Haz No Zexual Preference
Jake Adelstein, Angela Erika Kubo
September 13, 2014
Campbell describes the books on his shelves as a “curated” collection.Amazon Won’t Kill the Indie Bookstore
July 30, 2014
Several of the shelves were occupied by specimens of entomology.A Virtuoso's Collection (From "Mosses From An Old Manse")
She turned away to range some boxes on the shelves behind the counter.The Secret Agent
When he had gone, Duncan would have returned to the shelves for a final redding-up.The Fortune Hunter
Louis Joseph Vance
These were set in pots and on shelves near the latticed windows.Welsh Fairy Tales
William Elliott Griffis
I went back to the shelves and proceeded to look for food and drink.City of Endless Night
- the plural of shelf
- to place on a shelf
- to provide with shelves
- to put aside or postpone from consideration
- to dismiss or cause to retire
- (intr) to slope away gradually; incline
- a thin flat plank of wood, metal, etc, fixed horizontally against a wall, etc, for the purpose of supporting objects
- something resembling this in shape or function
- the objects placed on a shelf, regarded collectivelya shelf of books
- a projecting layer of ice, rock, etc, on land or in the seaSee also continental shelf
- mining a layer of bedrock hit when sinking a shaft
- archery the part of the hand on which an arrow rests when the bow is grasped
- See off the shelf
- on the shelf put aside or abandoned: used esp of unmarried women considered to be past the age of marriage
- (tr) Australian slang to inform upon
Word Origin and History for shelves
late 14c., from Middle Low German schelf "shelf, set of shelves," or from Old English cognate scylfe, which perhaps meant "shelf, ledge, floor," and scylf "peak, pinnacle," from Proto-Germanic *skelf- "split," possibly from the notion of a split piece of wood (cf. Old Norse skjölf "bench"), from PIE root *(s)kel- (1) "to cut, cleave" (see scale (n.1)).
Shelf life first recorded 1927. Phrase on the shelf "out of the way, inactive" is attested from 1570s; of unmarried women with no prospects from 1839. Off the shelf "ready-made" is from 1936. Meaning "ledge of rock" is from 1809, perhaps from or influenced by shelf (n.2). Related: Shelves.
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.
"sandbank," 1540s, of unknown origin. Related: Shelfy "abounding in sandbanks."
"to slope gradually," 1610s, from Middle English shelven "to slope," from shelfe "grassy slope," a word related to shelf (n.1). Related: Shelved; shelving.
- See continental shelf.
Idioms and Phrases with shelves
see off the shelf; on the shelf.