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Cloves (1).


Etymology 1[edit]

An alteration of Middle English clowe, 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, p. 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]

Borrowing 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]