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Cloves (1).


Etymology 1[edit]

An alteration of Middle English clowe, borrowed from the first component of Old French clou de girofle, from Latin clāvus (nail) for its shape. Also see clāva (knotty branch, club).


clove (countable and uncountable, plural cloves)

  1. (uncountable, countable) A very pungent aromatic spice, the unexpanded flower bud of the clove tree.
  2. (countable) A clove tree, of the species Syzygium aromaticum (syn. Caryophyllus aromaticus), native to the Moluccas (Indonesian islands), which produces the spice.
  3. (countable) An old English measure of weight, containing 7 pounds (3.2 kg), i.e. half a stone.
    • 1843, The Penny Cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge p. 202.
      Seven pounds make a clove, 2 cloves a stone, 2 stone a tod 6 1/2 tods a wey, 2 weys a sack, 12 sacks a last. The 'Pathway' points out the etymology of the word cloves; it calls them ' claves or nails.' It is to be observed here that a sack is 13 tods, and a tod 28 pounds, so that the sack is 364 pounds.
    • 1866, James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, volume 1, page 169:
      By a statute of 9 Hen. VI. it was ordained that the wey of cheese should contain 32 cloves of 7 lbs. each, i.e. 224 lbs., or 2 cwts.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English, from Old English clufu, cognate with cleofan (to split), hence with the verbal etymology hereafter


clove (plural cloves)

  1. Any one of the separate bulbs that make up the larger bulb of garlic

Etymology 3[edit]



  1. simple past tense of cleave
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 4[edit]

Borrowed from Dutch kloof.


clove (plural cloves)

  1. (geography) A narrow valley with steep sides, used in areas of North America first settled by the Dutch

Usage notes[edit]




clove (plural cloves)

  1. nail (fastener)