AskDefine | Define cleave

Dictionary Definition



1 separate or cut with a tool, such as a sharp instrument; "cleave the bone" [syn: split, rive]
2 make by cutting into; "The water is going to cleave a channel into the rock"
3 come or be in close contact with; stick or hold together and resist separation; "The dress clings to her body"; "The label stuck to the box"; "The sushi rice grains cohere" [syn: cling, adhere, stick, cohere] [also: cloven, clove, cleft]

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1

From the strong Old English verb clēofan, from , from Proto-Indo-European root . Cognates include dialectal German klieben.


  1. To split or sever something or as if with a sharp instrument.
  2. In the context of "transitive|mineralogy": To break a single crystal (such as a gemstone or semiconductor wafer) along one of its more symmetrical crystallographic planes (often by impact), forming facets on the resulting pieces.
  3. To make or accomplish by or as if by cutting: cleave a path through the ice.
  4. To pierce or penetrate.
    The wings cleaved the foggy air.
  5. In the context of "transitive|chemistry": To split (a complex molecule) into simpler molecules.
  6. In the context of "intransitive|mineralogy": Of a crystal, to split along a natural plane of division.


  1. technology jargon Flat, smooth surface produced by cleavage, or any similar surface produced by similar techniques, as in glass.
Related terms

Etymology 2

From Old English cleofian, from West Germanic , from Proto-Indo-European root . Cognates include German kleben (ankleben, bekleben).


  1. To cling, adhere or stick fast to something; used with to or unto.
  2. To be faithful.
    To cleave to one’s principles.
  • , Genesis, 2:24
    Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.


Extensive Definition

Cleave could refer to:
  • Cleave, an austrian alternative rock band.
  • Cleave, (v.), to adhere or to split.
  • Thomas L. Cleave, a surgeon captain

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

accelerate, activate, adhere, adhere to, agglomerate, amputate, associate, atomize, ax, bifurcate, bisect, bite, bombard, branch, breach, break, break to pieces, broach, bunch, butcher, by two, carve, check, chink, chop, clasp, cleave to, clench, clinch, cling, cling to, clip, clot, cluster, clutch, coagulate, cohere, combine, congeal, conglomerate, conjoin, crack, crevasse, cross-bombard, cut, cut apart, cut away, cut in two, cut off, cut open, demolish, dichotomize, dimidiate, disassemble, disintegrate, dismantle, dispart, dissect, dissever, ditch, divaricate, divide, divorce, embrace, excise, fission, fissure, fly open, fork, fracture, fragment, freeze to, furrow, gap, gash, grapple, grasp, grip, gripe, groove, grow together, hack, halve, hang on, hang on to, hang together, hew, hold, hold fast, hold on, hold on to, hold tight, hold together, hug, in half, incise, jigsaw, join, keep hold of, lance, lay open, link, make mincemeat of, mass, never let go, nip, nucleize, ope, open, open up, pare, part, persist, pick to pieces, prune, pull in pieces, pull to pieces, pulverize, ramify, reduce to rubble, rend, rent, rift, rip, rive, rupture, saw, scissor, separate, set, sever, shatter, slash, slice, slit, slot, smash, smash the atom, snip, solidify, split, split in two, spread, spread out, spring open, stay, stay put, stick, stick to, stick together, subdivide, sunder, swing open, take apart, take hold of, tap, tear, tear apart, tear open, tear to pieces, tear to shreds, tear to tatters, throw open, total, transect, trench, unbuild, undo, unite, unmake, whittle, wrack up, wreck
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1