- one of the thin, narrow, shaped pieces of wood that form the sides of a cask, tub, or similar vessel.
- a stick, rod, pole, or the like.
- a rung of a ladder, chair, etc.
- a verse or stanza of a poem or song.
- the alliterating sound in a line of verse, as the w-sound in wind in the willows.
- Music. staff1(def 10).
- to break in a stave or staves of (a cask or barrel) so as to release the wine, liquor, or other contents.
- to release (wine, liquor, etc.) by breaking the cask or barrel.
- to break or crush (something) inward (often followed by in).
- to break (a hole) in, especially in the hull of a boat.
- to break to pieces; splinter; smash.
- to furnish with a stave or staves.
- to beat with a stave or staff.
- to become staved in, as a boat; break in or up.
- to move along rapidly.
- stave off,
- to put, ward, or keep off, as by force or evasion.
- to prevent in time; forestall: He wasn't able to stave off bankruptcy.
Origin of stave
Synonyms for staveSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
- (tr, adverb) to avert or hold off (something undesirable or harmful), esp temporarilyto stave off hunger
- 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
- Britishan individual group of five lines and four spaces used in staff notation
- another word for staff 1 (def. 9)
- (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
"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.
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]