Origin of stave

1125–75; (noun) Middle English, back formation from staves; (v.) derivative of the noun
Related formsun·staved, adjective

Synonyms for stave

4. See verse.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for stave

Contemporary Examples of stave

Historical Examples of stave

  • Here is Arnold of Sowley will troll as good a stave as any man in the Company.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Somehow, he had hoped that his father and his friends might have been able to stave off ruin.

  • And she remembered her own passionate attempts to stave off despair by work.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • If I could stave off poverty no real harm could come to my child.

  • Jack answered by a graceful flourish of his hands, and a stave of another song.

    Clare Avery

    Emily Sarah Holt

British Dictionary definitions for stave



any one of a number of long strips of wood joined together to form a barrel, bucket, boat hull, etc
any of various bars, slats, or rods, usually of wood, such as a rung of a ladder or a crosspiece bracing the legs of a chair
any stick, staff, etc
a stanza or verse of a poem
  1. Britishan individual group of five lines and four spaces used in staff notation
  2. another word for staff 1 (def. 9)

verb staves, staving, staved or stove

(often foll by in) to break or crush (the staves of a boat, barrel, etc) or (of the staves of a boat) to be broken or crushed
(tr usually foll by in) to burst or force (a hole in something)
(tr) to provide (a ladder, chair, etc) with a stave or staves
(tr) Scot to sprain (a finger, toe, etc)

Word Origin for stave

C14: back formation from staves, plural of staff 1
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 stave

"piece of a barrel," 1750, back-formation from staves (late 14c.), plural of staff (cf. leaves/leaf), possibly from Old English, but not recorded there. The verb (to stave in, past tense stove) is 1590s, originally nautical, on notion of bashing in the staves of a cask and letting out the contents; stave off (1620s) is literally "keep off with a staff," as of dogs.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper