Main definitions of shelf in English

: shelf1shelf2

shelf1

noun

  • 1A flat length of wood or rigid material, attached to a wall or forming part of a piece of furniture, that provides a surface for the storage or display of objects.

    • ‘Many display shelves were covered by stationery materials, crepe paper, haberdashery, hair conditioner and washing detergent, boot polish and plastic toys.’
    • ‘In the adjacent cabinet, glide-out shelves provide pantry storage.’
    • ‘The pieces were displayed on shelves, propped against the wall, emphasizing their three-dimensionality.’
    • ‘Eventually, the stock grew and Bruce put shelves on the wall (behind the counter) to display the movies.’
    • ‘A walk-in pantry with shelves provides extra storage and another door leads to a roomy back hall, toilet and plumbed utility room.’
    • ‘These ladies got a team together that catalogued and organised the books and journals from boxes to shelves and they continue their work today as more and more books are donated.’
    • ‘A shelf along one wall provides extra space for smaller plants.’
    • ‘The painters, who had promised me two days notice to remove everything from walls, shelves and large pieces of furniture, instead gave me a few hours.’
    • ‘Traditionally, a food bank's shelves are filled haphazardly with whatever goods companies overproduce.’
    • ‘The boy grabbed a lantern off a shelf and lit it, and they continued down the dark hallway.’
    • ‘The cost of fitted shelves and units can break the bank.’
    • ‘You'll find wood storage shelves and crates in pine, oak, redwood, and a variety of other woods, or you can have a wood shop custom make whatever you need.’
    • ‘Wood or plastic shelves then rest on the brackets.’
    • ‘On another wall were shelves holding the trophies displayed.’
    • ‘I could stock the shelves with my teenage children at the local food bank.’
    • ‘They check that the items are continuously on the shelves and promoted prominently.’
    • ‘The brunette in question merely nodded at my statement and continued rifling through the shelves.’
    • ‘At the back of the restaurant is a grand old-fashioned teak pharmaceutical counter with banks of drawers and shelves full of bottles.’
    • ‘Scattered around the perimeter were canvases and dark wood frames and shelves were put seemingly randomly on the walls.’
    • ‘Free-standing shelves provide excellent storage and can be taken with you when you move.’
    ledge, bracket, sill, rack
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A ledge of rock or protruding strip of land.
      • ‘A dusty pile of sheet rock tumbled from one of the high, unsteady shelves and landed beside Barbara.’
      • ‘As the water went down, one of the aquarists placed some of the eggs that had fallen from the sides of the tank on a rock shelf.’
      • ‘There were, broadly speaking, three tracts of relevant land: there is the rock shelf, which was tidal…’
      • ‘Later, he tries another, trickier approach, via an overhanging shelf of rock and ice.’
      • ‘In the Speak-See Ball, huge shelves of land were being uprooted and tossed through the air like confetti.’
      • ‘The rock shelf came to an end as the cliff stopped, and at the end was a thirty-foot drop into the lagoon.’
      • ‘An undamaged cluster of two foot long straws hang under a shelf of rock topped with flowstone, and is well worth a visit.’
      • ‘They kept to the shadows, slinking along beneath a dusty shelf of rock.’
      • ‘I wanted to get a photo of the Gram Parsons BBQ pit from a small shelf in the rock above.’
      • ‘Then the fogbank was gone and the ground suddenly appeared, jagged shelves of rock speeding up toward them.’
      • ‘The venue has steep banks with a shelf half way down.’
      • ‘To the hole's right lies a broad shelf of rock; to its left, a tower.’
      • ‘This has been known to occur on the north side of Mavericks where there is no exit from the water, only a rock shelf.’
      • ‘The children seemed a little disappointed that a ride in the rubber boat was not included in their tour, but they found plenty to interest them in the rock pools in the cave and on the rock shelf.’
      • ‘Figure 6 shows outcrop Al as a representative example of the shelf to shoreface successions on the footwall of the Jalan Tutong Fault.’
      • ‘I pull the rope bag out and drop it on the ledge in front of my shins, padding the rock shelf so I can lean into it.’
      • ‘Beside him on the rock shelf was a small cylindrical shaped object with a whip-thin antenna telescoping from the top.’
      • ‘Several minutes later the rock shelf above him disappeared and a steady stream of moonlight cascaded across the path.’
      • ‘Each bank has a marginal shelf, which during the summer is covered in lilies.’
      • ‘Sitting on a natural shelf in the rock was a dingy mirror, and Prudence finger-combed her hair in it before smiling through the redness of her nose and eyes.’
    2. 1.2 A submarine bank, or a part of the continental shelf.
      • ‘Zebra sharks are primarily bottom dwellers that live in warm shallow inland waters, of continental and island shelves.’
      • ‘This problem with the sediment trap technique is probably restricted to the continental slope and shelf and will not occur over abyssal depths.’
      • ‘From the cave I like to follow the reef up past a shelf at 12m to a window in the rocks at just less than 10m.’
      • ‘The deep-sea species inhabit the ocean shelf around 100 miles off the north-west coast of Scotland.’
      • ‘The Lower and Middle Allochthons comprise shelf and continental rise successions envisaged as indigenous to the Baltoscandian margin.’
      • ‘Adjacent coastal states have sovereign rights over the seabed mineral resources of the shelf.’
      • ‘In 1965, a sudden change occurred; drift ice and polar water covered the north Icelandic shelf during spring.’
      • ‘The reef at once returned to slopes, shelves and indentations, with a host of coral species shrouded in anthias, butterflyfish, angelfish and groupers.’
      • ‘This depth corresponds to the major change in slope between the shelf and the submarine flanks of the island.’
      • ‘Heading up Leck Fell Lane, past the cascade marking the start of the Cigalere, we continued upstream until arriving at the nice flowstone shelf with loads of straws.’
      • ‘Sea mounts with dizzying shelves rise from the ocean floor, covered in every form of life which crawls, slides, flickers and oozes through the days and nights of marine existence.’
      • ‘Anemone City's sharply angled reef is broken by plateaux and shelves, where dense pinnacles and coral heads tower in a blaze of colour.’
      • ‘It occurs in mudstones that were deposited at outer shelf or bathyal depths and in flysch facies that were deposited at bathyal depths or greater.’
      • ‘Recruitment patterns of these species along the shelf were then used to infer water-mass distributions along the shelf.’
      • ‘We thank B. Pelletier for fruitful discussions on the origin of the shallow submarine shelf, and G. Wadge and S. J. Day for their careful reviews.’
      • ‘Sheltered from the southeasterly breeze, the reef drops away in a series of shelves down to a large sand gutter at 30m.’
      • ‘Exquisite rock islands cloaked in dense foliage are fringed by the shelves of coral reefs covered in crystal water leading you to precipitous drop-offs.’
      • ‘Limestone deposition will then result by retrogradation from the adjoining shelf during continuous transgression.’
      • ‘This is situated on the highest part of the shelf and is bounded on the east by a rubble bank, which can be traced for over 600 m. and on the west by a precipitous natural scarp.’
      • ‘They prefer the warm environment of coastal waters along continental and insular shelves.’
      sandbank, sandbar, bank, bar, reef, shoal
      View synonyms

Phrases

  • off the shelf

    • Not designed or made to order but taken from existing stock or supplies.

      ‘off-the-shelf software packages’
      • ‘My busy Lizzies are grown from seed rather than bought in off the shelf but, unfortunately, they never reach the seeding stage.’
      • ‘Recruits, knowledge, ideas and even cash could be had off the shelf.’
      • ‘In Japan and some parts of Scandinavia you can buy a house off the shelf.’
      • ‘You ditch the standard template you grabbed off the shelf when you first started blogging, in favour of a design of your own making.’
      • ‘This is the software you buy shrink-wrapped off the shelf or download from the Internet onto your computer.’
      • ‘The electronic speed controller which works through a conventional twist grip throttle was bought off the shelf.’
      • ‘No one out there is buying off the shelf without some recompense to their own industry or their own workers.’
      • ‘All cost around £20 and are available off the shelf or next day at the dealer.’
      • ‘You can buy software specific to an industry and specific to one need, off the shelf, without having to buy a whole package.’
      • ‘So in all probability, they took the stadium plans off the shelf.’
  • on the shelf

    • (of people or things) no longer useful or desirable.

      ‘an injury that has kept him on the shelf’
      • ‘Keep in mind that plans are not something to write and put on the shelf.’
      • ‘She feels that this puts a lot of otherwise extremely worthwhile contemporary keyboard works on the shelf.’
      • ‘So I put this screenplay on the shelf, and I called my producers who shared the same opinion with me.’
      • ‘Every budget that I submitted they put on the shelf and said it was dead on arrival.’
      • ‘Neither of us can afford to put the other on the shelf for a few years.’
      • ‘Until the court case settled, this IPO is on the shelf, possibly forever.’
      • ‘For the likely and less likely lads still on the shelf there's always tomorrow - at least until the end of the week.’
      • ‘Until people realize this, the bad boys will have to sing their own praises to avoid being left on the shelf.’
      • ‘And it is the self-centred ones who tend to get left on the shelf and so are the main frequenters of singles venues.’
      • ‘These proposals have been on the shelf from six months to a year.’

Origin

Middle English: from Middle Low German schelf; related to Old English scylfe ‘partition’, scylf ‘crag’.

Pronunciation

shelf

/SHelf//ʃɛlf/

Main definitions of shelf in English

: shelf1shelf2

shelf2

noun

NZ, Australian
informal
  • An informer.

verb

[WITH OBJECT]NZ, Australian
informal
  • Inform on (someone)

    ‘he never shelfed a man in his life’

Origin

1930s (as a noun): probably from the phrase on the shelf ‘out of the way’.

Pronunciation

shelf

/SHelf//ʃɛlf/