Definition of stave in English:



  • 1A vertical wooden post or plank in a building or other structure.

    • ‘One corner of the room contains tall curving birch staves that are evocative of a forest.’
    • ‘By looking at the end grain, it was often possible to determine whether the darts were made from natural shafts or split from larger pieces of wood in the form of staves.’
    • ‘Newhaus spent IR £35,000 on just elevating the site. He then had to install staves to reinforce the foundations further.’
    • ‘Cutting staves led to the purchase of a kiln, which, in turn, opened up additional markets.’
    • ‘It's like a workshop in Hades - you feel the heat from barrels set over open fires in the floor and hear the piercing din of hammers on steel as hoops are pounded onto staves.’
    • ‘Here there were no men training, only a few targets and a pile of wooden staves in the corner.’
    post, pole, stick, spike, upright, support, prop, strut, stave, pale, paling, picket, pile, piling, stanchion, shaft, cane, beanpole, rod, mast
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Any of the lengths of wood attached side by side to make a barrel, bucket, or other container.
      • ‘The wood of the stave and arrow shafts was dark with moisture.’
      • ‘Wilcox's experience as a logger developed into another niche market: cutting staves for a barrel maker.’
      • ‘The adventures that he and his friends shared on the Red River in a homemade canoe made of barrel staves and grain sacks became a favorite memory.’
      • ‘To illustrate this, Liebig imagined a barrel crafted out of staves of mismatched lengths.’
      • ‘Experiments with brandy as well as wine, however, demonstrate the superiority of air-dried over kiln-dried wood for barrel staves.’
      • ‘Richard worked just about every job in that business, from harvesting logs to make the barrel staves through to coopering and trucking the water-tight barrels to fishery clients in Atlantic Canada.’
      • ‘For three years the wine is aged in new barrels made of hand-split oak staves.’
      • ‘The sun louvers were made of salvaged barrel staves from a nearby pickle factory.’
      • ‘Close by was apparently another barrel which had collapsed as only the staves - still well preserved - remained.’
      • ‘They entered the market obliquely through the production of non-agricultural products such as barrel staves that they bartered for textiles, hardware and cheap consumer goods.’
      • ‘It was carried out with a stocking filled with sand or sometimes wooden staves from a cask.’
    2. 1.2 A strong wooden stick or iron pole used as a weapon.
      • ‘Jonathan trained his crossbow on the back door while Kyli and Ben stood on either side of the door with their staves raised.’
      • ‘Gabe stalked over to the weapons rack and pulled down two wooden staves, in a bad temper because his preferred sword hadn't been chosen.’
      • ‘Len Smith was attacked just seconds after reaching his 46th birthday and was beaten savagely with a wooden stave picked up in the beer garden of his pub in Salford.’
      • ‘The two guards were confronted by four men in balaclavas, armed with a small samurai sword and wooden staves.’
      • ‘Anyone who remembered the plastic visors, the guns and staves of police guarding the Justice Department during Vietnam protests had to be struck with the civility of it all.’
      • ‘Vigilante groups dressed in robes and turbans, armed with staves and swords and mounted on motorbikes, patrol the city to enforce the curfew.’
      • ‘The recital of her crime too was read out as she knelt, and then the executioner stepped forward with a wooden stave and dealt a hundred blows upon her shoulder.’
      • ‘He used his stave like a walking cane, swinging it before him with a tap of his boot.’
      • ‘Arms and wooden staves waved in crazy confusion above the human mass and from it projectiles - bricks, rocks, bars of iron - arced into the line of men.’
      • ‘On the roadway, the supporters were shouting at the crowd to move back, staves were being swung, a few punches thrown.’
      • ‘He could make out the glint of staves and unsheathed swords through the swirling dust.’
      • ‘As he searched, he spotted a wooden stave laying in the dirt.’
      • ‘Every character has swords, staves or other edged weaponry, which you can perform light spin attacks or strong power strikes on opponents.’
      • ‘They fought the riot police with staves and stones.’
      • ‘Gold-covered wooden staves were used to carry The Ark Of The Covenant.’
      • ‘The end of the room was guarded by two women in long white-gold robes, standing to attention, their ornately carved staves upright.’
      • ‘The same leaders of more than 50 men who beat Peter Cavanaugh to death with wooden staves forbade anyone other than close relatives from attending the burial.’
      • ‘They responded by putting down their staves and harpoons.’
      • ‘In the center lie a pile of wooden swords, staves, daggers, shields.’
      • ‘I started to crash to the stones of the courtyard, only to find myself being supported by Gareth, who had immediately dropped his stave to catch me.’
  • 2British Music

    another term for staff (sense 4 of the noun)
    • ‘A typical graph contains one or more grand staves, or piano staves, so one will likely begin with a piano template.’
    • ‘In his Alphabet des mouvements du corps humain he placed movement symbols on a special stave while recording the floor patterns above it.’
  • 3A verse or stanza of a poem.

    stanza, strophe, stave, canto
    View synonyms


  • 1stave something inBreak something by forcing it inward or piercing it roughly.

    ‘the door was staved in’
    break in, smash in, put a hole in, push in, kick in, cave in, splinter, shiver, fracture
    View synonyms
  • 2stave something offAvert or delay something bad or dangerous.

    ‘a reassuring presence can stave off a panic attack’
    • ‘The top seed staves off a break point with his second ace and clings on.’
    • ‘A Ringwood business has staved off an enforcement notice from New Forest district council at the 11th hour.’
    • ‘Its death has been staved off by the IVF freezing process.’
    • ‘Yet, and though it might seem unpalatable to the Rangers faithful, the truth is that the full effects of the club's trade deficit continue to be staved off in a footballing context.’
    • ‘We have staved off other suppliers that have been threatening winding-up orders so the Inland Revenue has increased again.’
    • ‘While the humanitarian program in that country has successfully staved off starvation, the level of malnutrition remains high and directly contributes to the morbidity and mortality.’
    • ‘The narrator has achieved her distance from this idyll and its tragic end; she has spotted the fatal hubris of her fifteen-year-old self - the certainty that death can be staved off by love.’
    • ‘They shrugged after the second Test was lost by a whimper, then spoke of relief when defeat was staved off in the third.’
    • ‘But we could not have staved if off any longer in this day and age - and we were one of the few clubs in the country which did not have women as full members.’
    • ‘In cults and controlling groups the crisis of admitting that everything one has believed is wrong is staved off by finding new explanations for discrepancies in the group's ideas and rules.’
    • ‘Papua New Guinea prime minister staves off leadership challenge’
    • ‘Japan had hoped that the resumption of talks in September would help the countries settle the issue and stave off mounting cries on both sides for further escalation.’
    • ‘Despite an environmentally hostile administration and a country preoccupied with the threat of war and terrorism, some key threats to the environment were staved off.’
    • ‘But, largely thanks to the efforts of the ‘Save the Jags’ campaign, under whose auspices Thistle supporters rallied to raise funds, the immediate threat of closure was staved off.’
    • ‘Every step of the film is grounded in common logic and practicality - civilian survivors mourn their dead, band together into surrogate families, stave off the infected and turn to soldiers for protection.’
    • ‘But, following a shake-up of the board and some work being undertaken on the green, the axe has been staved off for the time being.’
    • ‘But at least you've staved it off for 30, 40 years so that you don't get those proportionate deadly results.’
    • ‘At the same time, utter nihilism is staved off with some incisive and poignantly human touches.’
    • ‘A similar move to repeal these taxes last August in Congress was staved off when President Clinton vetoed a bill that would have gradually repealed federal inheritance taxes.’
    • ‘Soybeans are high in protein and soy fiber staves off hunger.’
    avert, prevent, avoid, preclude, rule out, counter, forestall, nip in the bud
    View synonyms


Middle English: back-formation from staves, archaic plural of staff. Current senses of the verb date from the early 17th century.