Definition of sheaf in US English:



  • 1A bundle of grain stalks laid lengthwise and tied together after reaping.

    • ‘Experience the sight and sound of the traditional threshing mill with Charlie Bourke, and friends, as they separate the grain from the sheaves.’
    • ‘I'd rather believe my whisky came from barley sheaves standing in stooks in glens of tranquillity than admit the importance of the giant combine harvesters rolling across the Ukrainian plains.’
    • ‘The corn spirit was to live in the cornfield and die as the last sheaf was cut to be re-born in the Corn Dolly.’
    • ‘A widespread custom, also designed to please the prophet and maximise crops, was to leave uncut on the field the last sheaf of grain, tying it into a special twist, known as ‘Il'ia's beard’.’
    • ‘The wheat sheaves are being stooked to keep them dry until they are stacked.’
    • ‘Reaping will be by scythe and a 1953 Ferguson tractor, stooking - stacking the sheaves - will be by hand and threshing will involve a Victorian barn thresher.’
    • ‘The brushpot is decorated with scenes of rice cultivation and the stacking of sheaves - scenes of farm life.’
    • ‘The September auction in Morris is reminiscent of the bees the pioneers had at harvest time with the whole neighbourhood getting together to bring in the sheaves or raise the barn.’
    • ‘Although a machine designed to cut grain and bind sheaves with wire was patented in 1856, farmers disliked wire, in part because they could not easily dispose of it at threshing time.’
    • ‘They bend over in the small barley fields, terraced out of the mountainsides, cutting the sheaves with sickle moon scythes.’
    • ‘The library has stone totem poles on either side of the entrance, and the banks are embellished with sculpted friezes of bush planes, wheat sheafs, geese and wildflowers.’
    • ‘Workers then hauled the baler, adapted from the cotton industry, to the mounds; men scaled them and pitched the sheaves into the baler's boxlike opening.’
    • ‘Earlier in the year they had grown barley, cut it with a reaper and binder and had it all in sheafs.’
    • ‘The reaper and self-binder (which bound the grain into sheaves mechanically) enabled farmers to work vast tracts with small crews.’
    • ‘Early depictions of Cain portray him as a bearded man holding a sheaf of grain in one hand and vine-bearing grapes in the other.’
    • ‘I am currently sitting in a hut roofed with sheafs of grass; it's nearly midnight.’
    • ‘At the very outset, before the grain was harvested, one sheaf of barley would be cut and waved before the Lord.’
    • ‘The average load lifted was two sheaves at once.’
    • ‘It took it some time to warm up and when it was ready the man on the ground would grab his pitchfork and toss a sheaf up to another man standing on top of the machine itself.’
    • ‘The most stunning gown is one of silk organza, with sheafs of wheat stitched in straw.’
    1. 1.1 A bundle of objects of one kind, especially papers.
      ‘he waved a sheaf of papers in the air’
      • ‘Weaponry consisted of battleaxes, thrusting spears and daggers for the infantry, while the leaders in their battlewagons carry sheafs of javelins.’
      • ‘So he came through the door that morning and he had in his hand a sheaf of papers and he said this is what I've got to present at the United Nations according to the White House and you need to look at it.’
      • ‘Upon making a decision the Emperor would have his servants place a sheaf of paper either over or under the rock.’
      • ‘Today morning while stapling a sheaf of papers, I forgot that my finger was below and I was in such a fit of caffeine-induced working enthusiasm, I stapled my finger along with the papers.’
      • ‘Secreted elsewhere is a sheaf of white writing paper.’
      • ‘I have sheafs of poetry notes, experiments and scribbles, but nothing finished.’
      • ‘The Government's commitment to changing the law became clear in October, when Home Office officials left a sheaf of confidential papers in a Westminster pub.’
      • ‘The typewriter is under siege from a stapler, a hole punch and several sheafs kept in line by glass paperweights, but doesn't look worried.’
      • ‘I keep squinting up at the clock and accidentally catching the eye of busy-looking workers who scurry by with sheafs of paper, steaming mugs of coffee and harried expressions.’
      • ‘She pulled a sheaf of papers from her knapsack and shuffled through them.’
      • ‘I became convinced that not only was this noisome sheaf the genuine article, but the original document that he had left behind when vanished back into whatever mists had spawned him.’
      • ‘For weeks before the book came, sheafs of papers did: advance reviews, pictures of a man with the suggestion of a mocking smile, the dates of his visit.’
      • ‘The Sun and warmth gave its own comfort, and to my delight I saw whole sheafs of May roses, full in bud and ready to bloom, along the track as we went on.’
      • ‘Foremen with slates and sheafs of written orders swarmed about, shouting for their sections as they found the crates and parcels and bales whose labels matched their instructions.’
      • ‘I didn't have to sign sheafs and sheafs of paper.’
      • ‘He was in shorts, like one of the errant schoolboys he used to chastise, clutching a sheaf of papers, or hastily-composed homework, shaking his general defiance.’
      • ‘The very same magazine now prints sheafs of articles depicting the Earth as an overheating greenhouse, like this anecdote from the September 6, 2004 Newsweek.’
      • ‘He waved at a chair and handed me a sheaf of typed paper and I started reading, rocking the stroller with my foot.’
      • ‘Later in the day Graham called to let me know he's found another agent, viewed another flat, paid a holding deposit and is returning home with a sheaf of papers to get the rental and the lease sorted out.’
      • ‘His name and rank are embossed on the bottom of the sheafs, while along the top is a line from the Koran that reads: ‘Your victory is from God.’’
      bundle, bunch, stack, pile, heap, mass, armful, collection
      View synonyms


[with object]
  • Bundle into sheaves.

    • ‘The rye straw would be scutched or flayed during the long winter nights, sheafed and left ready for the thatcher.’
    • ‘The wooden bins, wisp-floored and empty of mice, will soon be heaped high by the strong arms of laughing young men boasting of the height of their sheafs, the speed of their reaping, and the goodness of their grains.’
    • ‘She had working hands that knew the feel of turf in the spring, the cuts and scrapes from sheafing oats, the soil of picking spuds in the back-end, all part of the annual cycle which had remained unchanged for years until more recent times.’


Old English scēaf, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch schoof ‘sheaf’ and German Schaub ‘wisp of straw’, also to the verb shove.