Definition of heave in US English:



  • 1with object and adverbial of direction Lift or haul (a heavy thing) with great effort.

    ‘she heaved the sofa back into place’
    ‘he heaved himself out of bed’
    • ‘She heaved herself out of the rocking chair and plucked the binoculars from the table.’
    • ‘To her relief, he heaved her up by her waist and threw her over his shoulder again.’
    • ‘I heaved myself and the table up the last flight of stairs.’
    • ‘Across her back I threw a soft light blanket before heaving the massive English saddle across.’
    • ‘With an empty arm, he rolled Razi onto her back, and heaved her upper half onto his knee.’
    • ‘I slowly heaved myself off the couch and into a standing position, stumbled over to the door, and opened it just as he dropped a package at the door and rang the bell.’
    • ‘He slowly heaved himself of the soft wet grass, dusted himself and prepared to face the world that lay ahead, the living world…’
    • ‘Jag gasped as his shoulder was nearly dislocated, then heaved himself up with the offended arm.’
    • ‘Finally giving in to his conscious, he reluctantly heaved himself off the comfy sofa and approached the door with great caution.’
    • ‘By the time I heaved myself into action, lifting Harry carefully and putting him down on my nicely warmed chair the fireworks had finished and the night was quiet once more.’
    • ‘He grabbed her bag and tossed it to her, running to the window and heaving it open.’
    • ‘They heaved themselves up, their muscles feeling like lead.’
    • ‘So I took my time finishing the job, heaved myself upright and turned to face the source of the muttering.’
    • ‘I gripped the next rock on the wall and heaved myself up.’
    • ‘Rae took a deep breath as she heaved a concrete brick up on to another one.’
    • ‘He heaved the gates open with Julius and Sam, and threw his spear at an emerging Saxon who had been awoken by the whistle.’
    • ‘After some minutes, he heaved himself to his feet to the evident relief of the crowd who had mistakenly cheered, but it proved premature.’
    • ‘I heaved myself up and hauled my bag back onto my shoulders.’
    • ‘Bastian heaved himself to a sitting position with much effort.’
    • ‘Kim heaved herself up on the lab table and sat on it.’
    haul, pull, lug, manhandle, drag, draw, tug
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    1. 1.1Nautical Pull, raise, or move (a boat or ship) by hauling on a rope or ropes.
      • ‘He hired hundreds of labourers to heave a large boat, a passenger ferry, over a mountain in the Andes.’
      • ‘The Danes used to work holding the boat with an anchor and heaving the ropes to the boat.’
      • ‘Finally I jump ashore and heave my boat out and carry it over the levee.’
      • ‘Where there was no obvious launch point George - adrenaline-charged - would heave the boat over walls or railings and clamber in.’
    2. 1.2informal Throw (something heavy)
      ‘she heaved half a brick at him’
      • ‘What is the specific legislation under which, if, a 15-year old boy heaves a brick in somebody's window and he has done it many times before, he might end up in detention?’
      • ‘Every day in every way there's enough to make one throw the newspaper across the room, heave a brick at the television set.’
      • ‘If you want to reach the disaffected youths who take to the streets to heave bricks at the police, you need to have a dialogue.’
      • ‘Dom and Dara exchanged a worried glance before pitching in; heaving rocks left and right.’
      • ‘James grabbed the back of Savage's shirt and heaved him away from the guns, tossing him into the middle of the room.’
      • ‘He grabs the boy by the collar of his shirt and heaves him across the room, sending him sliding into a table.’
      • ‘For some unknown reason I ended up heaving a cast iron bathtub through a house in Burslem on Saturday.’
      • ‘Barry then heaved the ball at Haywood, and Haywood throw a punch at Barry.’
      • ‘She heaved the feather light envelope across the room, tossing the box with it.’
      • ‘She gave half a shrug, and heaved her friend's ‘inadequate’ duffel bag out of the car.’
      • ‘Hot coffee revived her slightly and she heaved the new suitcase on to the pale bed-cover and flung back the lid.’
      • ‘So he heaved a brick though the glass and grabbed it.’
      • ‘A young hoodlum heaves a brick through the window of a baker's shop.’
      throw, fling, cast, toss, hurl, lob, pitch, send, dash, let fly
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  • 2with object Produce (a sigh)

    ‘he heaved a euphoric sigh of relief’
    • ‘The owners of the 150 properties engulfed by flood waters 15 months ago were not the only people heaving a sigh of relief.’
    • ‘We all heave a semi-contented sigh and say to ourselves: ‘At least he isn't playing.’’
    • ‘She continued to improve and her family heaved a sigh of relief and started limping back towards normalcy.’
    • ‘Environmentalists may fume, but commuters and residents sick of the constant traffic jams are heaving a sigh of relief at the sight of builders starting work on the new dual-carriageway.’
    • ‘They are consuming the dish by dollops and heaving sighs of contentment.’
    • ‘Qantas executives will be heaving a sigh of relief tonight.’
    • ‘Breathing hard, Jacob simply stared for a few more seconds before I heaved a harsh sigh and tugged off my headphones.’
    • ‘The second man heaved a sigh that was mocking in its false regret.’
    • ‘For those who heave a sigh of relief a second shock is only a couple of hours away.’
    • ‘Motorists will be heaving a sigh of relief with the announcement the by-pass is due to open before Christmas.’
    • ‘John knelt and checked for a pulse, he heaved a sigh of relief when he found one, Jim wouldn't die just yet.’
    • ‘If you could cup your ear you could hear Republicans all over the country heaving a sigh of relief.’
    • ‘You can almost hear the First Minister heaving a sigh of relief.’
    • ‘But instead of putting our feet up and heaving a sigh of relief, many of us are just beginning to realise how much we've actually spent.’
    • ‘Then he kissed it lightly and heaved a deep sigh again.’
    • ‘If you were here now you'd hear me heaving a big sigh.’
    • ‘Her body lurched, so thin the lightest touch would break her in half, heaving gasps of terror.’
    • ‘One suspects the government will now, after heaving a sigh of relief, quietly hand the issue over to doctors for them to sort out.’
    • ‘Labour election strategists, heaving a sigh of relief that the fuel protest seems to have been defused, are now worrying about the apathy factor in the forthcoming British election.’
    • ‘The other friend heaved a sigh and said he was totally dependent on his son who didn't give him any money.’
    let out, breathe, give, sigh, gasp, emit, utter
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  • 3no object Rise and fall rhythmically or spasmodically.

    ‘his shoulders heaved as he panted’
    • ‘My chest heaved, I was panting, and my hair had become stringy and was sticking to my sweaty neck and face.’
    • ‘She covered her face with her hands, her shoulders heaving.’
    • ‘The woman fell back, chest heaving, lips moving soundlessly.’
    • ‘Perhaps because of this, I felt acutely conscious of the way my shoulders were heaving, a rapid and seemingly exaggerated flapping motion.’
    • ‘He has his face in his hands, his shoulders heaving.’
    • ‘Finally he calmed down, his chest heaving as he panted, his heart still pounding in his chest.’
    • ‘She lay there, panting and heaving, feeling her blood drain away from her body and out through her torn clothes.’
    • ‘Her head bowed low, hair falling over her face, and her shoulders heaved.’
    • ‘He laid panting and heaving for breath until he finally fell asleep.’
    • ‘He can see her shoulders slightly heaving up and down.’
    • ‘Her tears for me were more than I could bear, and I started to sob silently, my chest heaving, my shoulders shaking.’
    • ‘As our shoulders burn and lungs heave with exertion, we slowly get the kayak under control and find the rhythm and intensity required to keep it going in the desired direction.’
    • ‘He put his arms around my shoulders and I leaned on shoulders, my body heaving with sobs.’
    • ‘Her chest heaved gently to the rhythm of her breathing, but as he crept in further, he had to stifle a scream.’
    • ‘I wrapped my arms around him and he buried his face into my shoulder like he had earlier that evening, shoulders heaving as he wrapped his arms around my waist.’
    • ‘‘Yes that's what I want’ I slammed the door in his face and leaned against it my shoulders heaving, it felt as though I had just run a mile.’
    • ‘His shoulders were heaving with sobs as I knelt beside him.’
    • ‘Darcy burst round the corner, his chest heaving heavily as he panted.’
    • ‘Already her chest and shoulders heaved from holding in sobs.’
    • ‘His chest heaved and he threw back his head, his muscles vibrating from the uncontrollable happiness of a laugh.’
    rise and fall, roll, swell, surge, churn, boil, seethe, swirl, billow
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    1. 3.1 Make an effort to vomit; retch.
      ‘my stomach heaved’
      • ‘My stomach heaved and I ran to the toilet, retching and crying.’
      • ‘He spent the next few minutes bent in half, but even after his stomach was completely empty he continued to retch and heave but bring nothing up.’
      • ‘My stomach almost heaved at the last ‘fond’ memory of my last movie with the two of them.’
      • ‘Her stomach heaved, and she wrapped her arms around her middle as if to contain it.’
      • ‘Bile rose in his throat and he began to heave uncontrollably.’
      • ‘Her stomach heaved and her hands were damp and clammy.’
      • ‘Will lay flat on his back, stomach heaving, sweat pooling in sandy little lumps on the cave floor.’
      • ‘My legs took me away from him and I dry heaved until I fell into a fit of tears.’
      • ‘But even I could make it no farther than the sixth house before my legs gave from under me and I collapsed on the ground, my stomach heaving.’
      • ‘My stomach heaved and I covered my mouth as I tried to regain control of my senses.’
      • ‘Her stomach clenched suddenly, heaving, and she had her answer.’
      • ‘I stood on their front lawn, my stomach heaving, trying to get my breath back.’
      • ‘Tom felt deadly full, his stomach still heaving like a stormy sea.’
      • ‘She was forced to close her eyes again as her stomach heaved.’
      • ‘I felt my stomach churn painfully, heaving viciously before I had time to react.’
      • ‘Her stomach heaved and she ran to the bathroom next to Samuel's room.’
      • ‘As soon as her stomach stopped heaving she fled back into the kitchen, away from the sight and smell of the dead kitten, and wiped her mouth down.’
      • ‘This time, however, her stomach heaved and she just barely grabbed the chamber pot before she was sick.’
      vomit, retch, gag, bring up, cough up
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  • 1An act of heaving, especially a strong pull.

    • ‘I was struck - flabbergasted, really - by the velocity of the heaves.’
    • ‘With a final heave, my boots skidded across the floor, leaving dark smudges in their wake.’
    • ‘Zane was struggling, his breaths coming in short heaves and his face turning red.’
    • ‘David gave a tremendous heave and Rose caught the end of the line.’
    • ‘So gathering all the strength he had he gave a mighty heave and broke the chain about his neck.’
    • ‘The vomiting soon turned into dry heaves, then coughs finally transforming into heart wrenching, soul shaking sobs.’
    • ‘They guarded their opponents courteously, looked for unchallenged spaces to catch the ball, and settled for long-range heaves.’
    • ‘With a jerk and a heave, the train stopped, sending Rebecca tumbling, laughing, on top of her husband.’
    • ‘He managed to give her a final heave and pull her through just as the door shut and gravity returned to normal.’
    • ‘I gave the stick a mighty heave and it swung out in a beautiful, soaring arc.’
    • ‘He shifts his weight as fast as possible and gives his opponent a great heave.’
    • ‘Maybe he could really flip himself over with an almighty heave?’
    • ‘Before I go on, please take a minute to finish your dry heaves of disgust as you purge that image from your minds.’
    • ‘The Guardian roared once more and, with a heave, he pushed his body sideways and forced the knife into the ground.’
    • ‘I tossed the remaining ball into the metal container and slammed the lid down with a heave, and then turned and walked across the court to where my father was standing.’
    • ‘He headed the hammer with a heave of 47. 55m, and dominated the shot with 13. 31m.’
    • ‘With a great heave of breath, Elizabeth slid across the wall to the stairs, never taking her eyes off of the closed door.’
    • ‘They hay strewn floor gave a heave as the other stables started awake.’
    • ‘It is characterised with gentle hand movements, a distinctive heave of the torso and soft walk.’
    • ‘The view from the summit, however, is assuredly worth all of the leg cramps and dry heaves.’
    yank, tug, pull, wrench, snatch, heave, drag, tweak, twitch
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  • 2Geology
    A sideways displacement in a fault.

    • ‘In most, if not all, cases it is clear that volumetric contraction has occurred with horizontal contraction of the sediments complementing the heave of the faults.’
    • ‘Entrance is signalled by a change of material, where the whole of the lower storey seems to shift to the right as if following some sort of geological heave.’
    • ‘There is some control on the footwall and hanging-wall geometry associated with the Bristol Channel Thrust but no decisive seismic control on the amount of heave across it.’
    • ‘Many of these faults are characterized by heaves ranging from several to tens of kilometres.’
  • 3the heavesinformal A case of retching or vomiting.

    ‘waiting for the heaves to subside’
    • ‘Luckily, most of it had been digested, so not much comes up; instead I'm stuck with the dry heaves as my body continues to convulse against my will.’
    • ‘After several minuets of dry heaves, he finally sank to the tiles again.’
    • ‘There are no sudden jerks that will give those prone to motion sickness the heaves.’
    • ‘Elevation will come after the dry heaves are gone.’
    • ‘She realized there was nothing in her stomach to be offered up, and fought back a second round of dry heaves.’
    • ‘Bobby sat still for a moment, sickened by hot waves of indignity rising like dry heaves from the pit of his stomach.’
    • ‘‘It was heartbreaking to hear,’ Vingerling says, mimicking Shirley's dry heaves.’
  • 4heavesA disease of horses, with labored breathing.


  • heave in sight (or into view)

    • Come into view.

      ‘the three canoes hove into view’
      • ‘Fortunately for us, an offshore sailing dinghy race hove into view, half a dozen racing dinghies screaming downwind.’
      • ‘An idyllic spot of woodland might hove into view, but tantalisingly only as a remote island in an ocean of ploughed fields.’
      • ‘On 18 May 1565 130 galleys and 50 transports carrying 30,000 troops hove in sight of what is now Valetta.’
      • ‘Thus began an uneasy night of watching our possessions like hawks and suspiciously eyeing up anyone who hove into view - this excluded the waiting staff who seemed to be doing their best to avoid us and/or forget our orders.’
      • ‘After several minutes, he heard the watchman approach, mumbling a song under his breath, then hove into view, his lantern preceding him.’
      • ‘Somebody was keeping count, and great cheers went up every time our heroine hove into view.’
      • ‘As his arrival date hove into view, I assembled a labour soundtrack.’
      • ‘Sure enough, several miles later a small isolated mound hove into view with a scrubby acacia tree perched on top.’
      • ‘He gasped as a fully armed hovertank hove into view.’
      • ‘It is said, too, that sailors, beating up against the wind in the Gulf of Finland, sometimes see a strange sail heave in sight astern and overhaul them hand over hand.’
      • ‘Then a span of rock hove into view, barring the passage.’
      • ‘Once he hove into view at our table, the lights went out and I had to order in the dark.’
      • ‘The chamber pot was shrouded in fog when I began to look for it, and then, as the wind blew stronger, it hove into view.’
      • ‘Familiar faces hove into view and the barman greets me by name even though I've not been here for eight months.’
      • ‘Today's revelations of the American meetings, the anger of Boyce and the faltering Labour lead in the polls will ensure that those around Blair continue to bite their nails as the last 96 hours of the campaign hove into view.’
      • ‘Soon the shining titanium flanks of the museum hove into view.’
      • ‘Later, as the 200-page mark heaves into view, it's ‘Write and enjoy!’’
      • ‘I order from the meat trolley, a big stainless steel affair in which various meats are submerged in hot water and juices and heaved into view when a lever is pulled.’
      • ‘So far the neighbours have not actually complained but they have been seen to dive for cover when the verbose trio hove into view.’
      • ‘But it doesn't alter the fact that the display moves up several gears and explodes into a great and sensuous ripeness when the art of the Ottomans finally heaves into view.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • heave to

    • (of a boat or ship) come to a stop, especially by turning across the wind leaving the headsail backed.

      ‘he hove to and dropped anchor’
      • ‘Seeking water, Alexander heaved to and sent out a boat.’
      • ‘‘You will also practise being captain of your own ship, repairing the engine and heaving to in a storm,’ she said.’
      • ‘The ship was hove to and the men in charge of patching were swung over in rope slings.’
      • ‘The boat heaves to under power and waits, the skipper aware of the half-mile visibility in haze.’
      • ‘As they approached the coast of Western Australia the wind blew too heavily for the ship to make landfall and they had to heave to with close reefed topsails.’


Old English hebban, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch heffen and German heben ‘lift up’.