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See more synonyms for shelving on Thesaurus.com
  1. material for shelves.
  2. shelves collectively.
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Origin of shelving

First recorded in 1625–35; shelve1 + -ing1


verb (used with object), shelved, shelv·ing.
  1. to place (something) on a shelf or shelves.
  2. to put off or aside from consideration: to shelve the question.
  3. to remove from active use or service; dismiss.
  4. to furnish with shelves.
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Origin of shelve1

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


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verb (used without object), shelved, shelv·ing.
  1. to slope gradually.
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Origin of shelve2

1580–90; origin uncertain; compare Frisian skelf not quite level
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for shelving

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Here he emptied his pockets on the table and built a shelving house of gold.

    The Lure of the Mask

    Harold MacGrath

  • As they lay, the shelving rock was less than two feet above their heads.

  • This shelving of the real facts, of course, is unconscious on the part of women.

    Women's Wild Oats

    C. Gasquoine Hartley

  • If there are cliffs or shelving rocks near by, go and see them.

    The Later Cave-Men

    Katharine Elizabeth Dopp

  • The narrow, shelving beach, rivalled the whiteness of a fresh snow-drift.

    The Island Home

    Richard Archer

British Dictionary definitions for shelving


  1. material for making shelves
  2. a set of shelves; shelves collectively
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verb (tr)
  1. to place on a shelf
  2. to provide with shelves
  3. to put aside or postpone from consideration
  4. to dismiss or cause to retire
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Derived Formsshelver, noun

Word Origin

C16: from shelves, plural of shelf


  1. (intr) to slope away gradually; incline
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Word Origin

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 shelving



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.

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper