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See also: Cleaver


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From cleave +‎ -er; compare Middle English clevere.



A cleaver.

cleaver (plural cleavers)

  1. A squarish, heavy knife used by butchers for hacking through bones etc.
    • 1883, Howard Pyle, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood Chapter V
      When he came to Nottingham, he entered that part of the market where butchers stood, and took up his inn in the best place he could find. Next, he opened his stall and spread his meat upon the bench, then, taking his cleaver and steel and clattering them together, he trolled aloud in merry tones:...
    • 1946, Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan
      Concurrently with Flay's visualization of the cleaver falling—the cleaver fell.
  2. (music, Bahamas) A type of clave, or rhythm stick, a concussive musical instrument used in traditional Bahamian music.
  3. (metaphoric) The act of eliminating someone or something, especially when done by someone with a history of other eliminations; a dismissal, rejection, or removal.
    • 2017 May 13, Barney Ronay, “Antonio Conte’s brilliance has turned Chelsea’s pop-up team into champions”, in the Guardian[1]:
      Conte has broken the mould further with the suggestion he might escape the Abramovich cleaver, becoming the first of his line to leave by his own volition.
    Synonym: axe

Usage notes[edit]

As a musical instrument, cleaver is normally used only in the plural, just like the more common synonym claves, which is far more often used internationally and is better known as a part of Cuban music. In the Bahamas, cleavers is the more common terminology.

Related terms[edit]