Main definitions of cleave in US English:

: cleave1cleave2

cleave1

verb

[with object]
  • 1Split or sever (something), especially along a natural line or grain.

    ‘the large ax his father used to cleave wood for the fire’
    • ‘Forget about the digital divide - it's the domestic divide that really cleaves this country in two.’
    • ‘A beetle and froe were used for cleaving the sawn pieces, then a hatchet and drawshave were needed to roughly shape the lengths of wood.’
    • ‘The ship itself was sailing through a frosty sea, and frequently the prow reared up and clove a vast iceberg in two before continuing.’
    • ‘Especially around Washington, it was inevitable that speculation about the identity of the killer would cleave along ideological lines.’
    • ‘And when we play, it tends to cleave the audience right down the middle - half of them are really excited, and half of them are totally repulsed.’
    • ‘Their legs were like those of men but their feet were cloven like calves' feet and shone like burning brass.’
    • ‘His every word cleft my mother's soul like a scimitar.’
    • ‘It's the fabled Cilician Gates that gave Alexander access to the wealth of Asia, a great, cleaving gap in a mountain range.’
    • ‘He swung the mighty blade with one arm cleaving the ground and splitting the tiles around it.’
    • ‘He effortlessly cleaved a log in half, then into quarters lengthwise, before straightening to look at her again.’
    • ‘As if he anticipated, Valaan chopped outward with one arm, and the tendrils were cloven in half.’
    • ‘The majesty is not cloven in two nor the glory divided.’
    • ‘As we all know, this issue has caused massive issues for the party internally, this divide cleaves the party right down to its lowest level.’
    • ‘Being questioned about their delay, they replied that it was due to a violent tempest, and that, the sea being cloven [parted] their prow struck against a rock and was broken.’
    • ‘The ax clove the rest of the sword in two, missing Drew's flesh by inches.’
    • ‘First cleaving the silk thread into a single strands, she then dyed them in different colours and gave free rein to her creative impulses through transcendent stitching skills.’
    • ‘You never find out, because you never go back; but sometimes, chance cleaves a rip in the fabric of time, and you return, a stranger.’
    split, split open, crack open, lay open, divide, sever, splinter
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Split (a molecule) by breaking a particular chemical bond.
      • ‘All of these enzymes recognize specific four-residue sequences and cleave peptide bonds located strictly after an Asp group.’
      • ‘Biogen 1 discloses that the way to do it is to choose the restriction enzymes likely to cleave the Dane particle DNA into the largest fragments.’
      • ‘For almost a century, industrial chemists have had to rely on hellishly high temperatures and gas pressures to cleave the tenacious chemical bond that holds together each two-atom nitrogen molecule.’
      • ‘The only function for renin is to cleave a 10-amino acid peptide from the N-terminal end of angiotensinogen.’
      • ‘These are the properties expected of mutants lacking an enzyme that cleaves joint molecules.’
    2. 1.2Biology no object (of a cell) divide.
      ‘the egg cleaves to form a mulberry-shaped cluster of cells’
      • ‘As the egg cleaves, the amount of cytoplasm does not increase, but the amount of DNA does.’
      • ‘A metazoan body develops as the egg cleaves into cells that then proliferate in a branching pattern of mitoses to produce a cell tree.’
      • ‘FDA can pass through the cell membrane whereupon intracellular esterases cleave off the diacetate group.’
      • ‘The arrow points to a mitotic figure cleaving off a narrow cell from a semi-regular hexagon cell.’
      • ‘Total DNA isolated from these yeast cells was treated with SmaI to cleave off one telomeric end.’
    3. 1.3 Make a way through (something) forcefully, as if by splitting it apart.
      ‘they watched a coot cleave the smooth water’
      no object ‘an unstoppable warrior clove through their ranks’
      ‘Stan was off, cleaving a path through the traffic’
      • ‘A thundering, prehistoric steam engine cleaves the crowd, whistle screaming, a velvet column billowing into the dark.’
      • ‘Still weary, he followed behind me as I cleaved through the crowds toward Elizabeth.’
      • ‘Like an icicle being stepped on, the iceberg split into pieces as the bombs ripped through it, fire cleaving a line clean through the middle.’
      • ‘Rather than take I - 25, which cleaves the plains from Wyoming south to New Mexico, I decided to thumb the blue highways down the spine of the Rockies.’
      • ‘Three such soldiers were there at this time, cleaving through waves of eye laden stalks as they rose from the dust.’
      • ‘Seres disappeared into the fray, a pair of short blades cleaving a path through the enemy that had rushed into the clearing.’
      • ‘Everything from a Hammond to a horn section works through nine songs fit for a daydreamer waiting for the sun to cleave the clouds.’
      plough, drive, bulldoze, cut, carve, make
      View synonyms

Origin

Old English clēofan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch klieven and German klieben.

Pronunciation

cleave

/kliv//klēv/

Main definitions of cleave in US English:

: cleave1cleave2

cleave2

verb

[no object]cleave to
literary
  • 1Stick fast to.

    ‘Rose's mouth was dry, her tongue cleaving to the roof of her mouth’
    • ‘A spewed file of papers fills up the workspace and cleaves to the surface trying not to buck with every faint gust of breeze.’
    • ‘The other road, my father's favourite, cleaves to the coast round Torr Head.’
    • ‘However applications still cleave to simple two-dimensional metaphors.’
    • ‘The music just cleaved to the story; it belongs to the images like nothing else I've ever tried to do.’
    • ‘The tongue of the suckling infant cleaves to its palate for thirst; young children beg for bread, no one extends it to them.’
    stick to, stick fast to, be stuck to, adhere to, cohere to, be attached to, bond to
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Adhere strongly to (a particular pursuit or belief)
      ‘part of why we cleave to sports is that excellence is so measurable’
      • ‘It struck a chord with one of the superstore's workers, who cleaves to anonymity presumably to cleave to her job.’
      • ‘I know for a fact I could stand to be kinder, more generous, fiercer in cleaving to the good, true and beautiful.’
      • ‘Jean Bodin's famous definition of 1576 of the commonwealth was one which the following century could instinctively cleave to.’
      • ‘Nobody gets points for being virtuous and cleaving to fidelity when there are no opportunities to do otherwise.’
      • ‘I concluded that I rather regret not having completely cleaved to the letter of the law.’
      adhere to, hold to, cling to, stand by, abide by, be loyal to, be faithful to, remain true to
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Become very strongly involved with or emotionally attached to (someone)
      ‘it was his choice to cleave to the Brownings’
      • ‘Ruth cleaves to Naomi and returns with her to Bethlehem, while Orpha remains in Moab.’
      • ‘For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh.’
      • ‘Only on that basis can the relationship be one in which he genuinely cleaves to her and becomes one with her.’
      • ‘She cleaves to whichever man is available and is unable to face the idea of being alone even if the alternative is constant verbal abuse and physical rejection.’
      adhere to, hold to, cling to, stand by, abide by, be loyal to, be faithful to, remain true to
      View synonyms

Origin

Old English cleofian, clifian, clīfan, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch kleven and German kleben, also to clay and climb.

Pronunciation

cleave

/kliv//klēv/