Shelf definition

shĕlf
Frequency:
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.

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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.
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A thin, flat length of wood, metal, etc. fixed horizontally at right angles to a wall and used for holding things.
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A reef, sandbar, or shoal.
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Bedrock.
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The contents or capacity of such a structure.
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Something, such as a projecting ledge of rock or a balcony, that resembles such a structure.
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A similar support, usually one of a set, built into a frame, as in a bookcase or cupboard.
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The contents or capacity of a shelf.
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Something like a shelf.
  • A flat ledge jutting out from a cliff.
  • A sandbar or sandy reef.
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A layer of bedrock, as under deposits of soil or gravel.
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The capacity of such an object; as, a shelf of videos.
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A projecting ledge that resembles such an object.
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A flat, rigid, rectangular structure, fixed at right angles to a wall, and used to support, store or display objects.
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off the shelf
  • From ready-made merchandise in stock:
    Supplies that were available off the shelf.
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on the shelf
  • In a state of disuse or inactivity:
    The injured goalie has been on the shelf for weeks.
  • Out of consideration:
    The finance bill is on the shelf until next year.
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on the shelf
  • out of use, activity, or circulation
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Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
shelf
Plural:
shelves

Idioms and Phrasal Verbs

Origin of shelf

  • Middle English probably from Middle Low German schelf skel-1 in Indo-European roots

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • Probably from Old English scylfe (“deck of a ship"); distantly related to sculpt, carve and shell.

    From Wiktionary