Origin of stave

1125–75; (noun) Middle English, back formation from staves; (v.) derivative of the noun
Related formsun·staved, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for stave off (1 of 2)

stave off


verb

(tr, adverb) to avert or hold off (something undesirable or harmful), esp temporarilyto stave off hunger

British Dictionary definitions for stave off (2 of 2)

stave

/ (steɪv) /

noun

verb staves, staving, staved or stove

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 off

stave


n.

"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

Idioms and Phrases with stave off

stave off


Keep or hold away, repel, as in The Federal Reserve Board is determined to stave off inflation. This metaphoric expression transfers beating something off with a staff or stave to nonphysical repulsion. [c. 1600]

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