Books on an empty shelf.
The definition of a shelf is a flat, horizontal piece of wood for holding items.
An example of a shelf is where books are kept in the library.
- a thin, flat length of wood, metal, etc. fixed horizontally at right angles to a wall and used for holding things
- a similar support, usually one of a set, built into a frame, as in a bookcase or cupboard
- the contents or capacity of a shelf
- something like a shelf; specif.,
- a flat ledge jutting out from a cliff
- a sandbar or sandy reef
- a layer of bedrock, as under deposits of soil or gravel
Origin of shelfME, probably ; from Middle Low German schelf, akin to Old English scylf, shelf, ledge ; from Indo-European an unverified form skelp ; from base an unverified form (s)kel-, to cut from source half
on the shelf
out of use, activity, or circulation
nounpl. shelves shelves
- a. A flat, usually rectangular structure composed of a rigid material, such as wood, glass, or metal, fixed at right angles to a wall or other vertical surface and used to hold or store objects.b. The contents or capacity of such a structure.c. Something, such as a projecting ledge of rock or a balcony, that resembles such a structure.
- A reef, sandbar, or shoal.
Origin of shelfMiddle English, probably from Middle Low German schelf; see skel-1 in Indo-European roots.