To cleave is to split or separate something, especially along a natural line of separation or using a sharp tool, or to stick or adhere strongly to something or someone.verb
- When you split a bone in half using a knife, this is an example of cleave.
- When candle wax causes a candle to become firmly stuck to a table, this is an example of a situation where the candle cleaves to the table.
- When you become very attached to someone, this is an example of a situation where you cleave yourself to the person.
- to divide by a blow, as with an ax; split
- to pierce
- to sever; disunite
Origin: ME cleven < OE cleofan; akin to Ger klieben < IE base *gleubh-, to cut, slice > Gr glyphein, carve, L glubere, to peel
- to split; separate; fall apart
- to make one's way by or as by cutting
- cleavable adjective
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
verb cleft cleft or cleaved or clove , cleft cleft or cleaved or clo·ven , cleav·ing, cleaves verb, transitive
- To split with or as if with a sharp instrument. See Synonyms at tear1.
- To make or accomplish by or as if by cutting: cleave a path through the ice.
- To pierce or penetrate: The wings cleaved the foggy air.
- Chemistry To split (a complex molecule) into simpler molecules.
- Mineralogy To split or separate, especially along a natural line of division.
- To penetrate or pass through something, such as water or air.
Origin: Middle English cleven, from Old English clēofan; see gleubh- in Indo-European roots.
- cleavˈa·ble adjective
intransitive verb cleaved cleaved, cleav·ing, cleaves
- To adhere, cling, or stick fast.
- To be faithful: cleave to one's principles.
Origin: Middle English cleven, from Old English cleofian.