[ sleev ]
/ sliv /

verb (used with object), sleaved, sleav·ing.

to divide or separate into filaments, as silk.


anything matted or raveled.
a filament of silk obtained by separating a thicker thread.
a silk in the form of such filaments.

Nearby words

  1. slbm,
  2. slcm,
  3. sld,
  4. sld.,
  5. sle,
  6. sleaze,
  7. sleaze factor,
  8. sleazebag,
  9. sleazeball,
  10. sleazy

Origin of sleave

1585–95; Old English -slǣfan (only in the compound tōslǣfan), akin to slīfan to split; see sliver

Related formsun·sleaved, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sleave

British Dictionary definitions for sleave


/ (sliːv) /


a tangled thread
a thin filament unravelled from a thicker thread
mainly poetic anything matted or complicated


to disentangle (twisted thread, etc)

Word Origin for sleave

Old English slǣfan to divide; related to Middle Low German slēf, Norwegian sleiv big spoon

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 sleave



"to separate or divide" (threads, strands, fibers), Old English -slæfan, from stem of -slifan "to separate, split, cleave," from Proto-Germanic *slifanan, perhaps related to the root of slip (v.). Cf. German Schleife "a loop, knot, noose." Related: Sleaved; sleaving. As a noun, "knotted, tangled silk or thread," 1590s, from the verb; this is the word in Shakespeare's rauel'd Sleeue of Care ("Macbeth").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper