[ sleev ]

  1. the part of a garment that covers the arm, varying in form and length but commonly tubular.

  2. a protective container, usually thin and flexible with an opening on one side for insertion or removal of an item, as a paper storage envelope for a phonograph record, or a padded case for a tablet or other electronic device: a form-fitting laptop sleeve;a 24-sleeve CD wallet.

  1. a pliable tubular or rectangular container for crackers, cookies, and the like that is typically opened at one end to remove individual servings: I ate a whole sleeve of shortbreads before I realized how many calories that is!The largest box has four sleeves of saltines inside.

  2. Machinery. a tubular piece, as of metal, fitting over a rod or the like.

  3. a pattern of tattoos that covers the arm from shoulder to wrist in one integrated piece of tattoo art: I got my first tattoo when I turned 18, and by 28 I had full sleeves on both arms.

verb (used with object),sleeved, sleev·ing.
  1. to furnish with sleeves.

  2. Machinery. to fit with a sleeve; join or fasten by means of a sleeve.

Idioms about sleeve

  1. have something up one's sleeve, to have a secret plan, scheme, opinion, or the like: I could tell by her sly look that she had something up her sleeve.

  2. laugh up / in one's sleeve, to be secretly amused or contemptuous; laugh inwardly: to laugh up one's sleeve at someone's affectations.

Origin of sleeve

First recorded before 950; Middle English sleve, slieve,Old English slēfe (Anglian), slīefe; akin to Dutch sloof “apron”

Other words from sleeve

  • sleeve·like, adjective
  • un·sleeved, adjective

Words Nearby sleeve Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sleeve in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sleeve


/ (sliːv) /

  1. the part of a garment covering the arm

  2. a tubular piece that is forced or shrunk into a cylindrical bore to reduce the diameter of the bore or to line it with a different material; liner

  1. a tube fitted externally over two cylindrical parts in order to join them; bush

  2. a flat cardboard or plastic container to protect a gramophone record: US name: jacket

  3. roll up one's sleeves to prepare oneself for work, a fight, etc

  4. up one's sleeve secretly ready

  1. (tr) to provide with a sleeve or sleeves

Origin of sleeve

Old English slīf, slēf; related to Dutch sloof apron

Derived forms of sleeve

  • sleeveless, adjective
  • sleevelike, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with sleeve


see card up one's sleeve; laugh up one's sleeve; roll up one's sleeves; wear one's heart on one's sleeve.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.