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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

suspend, waive, freeze, prolong, mothball, dismiss, scrub, drop, pigeonhole, stay, delay, sideline, table, hold, prorogue

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