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From Middle English heven, hebben, from Old English hebban, from Proto-West Germanic *habbjan, from Proto-Germanic *habjaną (to take up, lift), from Proto-Indo-European *kh₂pyéti, from the root *keh₂p-.


  • IPA(key): /hiːv/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːv


heave (third-person singular simple present heaves, present participle heaving, simple past heaved or hove, past participle heaved or hove or hoven or heft)

  1. (transitive) To lift with difficulty; to raise with some effort; to lift (a heavy thing).
    We heaved the chest-of-drawers on to the second-floor landing.
  2. (transitive) To throw, cast.
    They heaved rocks into the pond.
    The cap'n hove the body overboard.
  3. (intransitive) To rise and fall.
    Her chest heaved with emotion.
    • 1718, Mat[thew] Prior, “Solomon on the Vanity of the World. A Poem in Three Books.”, in Poems on Several Occasions, London: [] Jacob Tonson [], and John Barber [], OCLC 5634253, (please specify the page):
      Frequent for breath his panting bosom heaves.
    • 1816, Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Canto the Third, London: Printed for John Murray, [], OCLC 1015450009, canto III, stanza LXXII:
      the heaving plain of ocean
    • 1887, H. Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure[1]:
      Presently the moon went down, and left us floating on the waters, now only heaving like some troubled woman's breast, with leisure to reflect upon all that we had gone through and all that we had escaped.
  4. (transitive) To utter with effort.
    She heaved a sigh and stared out of the window.
  5. (transitive, nautical) To pull up with a rope or cable.
    Heave up the anchor there, boys!
  6. (transitive, archaic) To lift (generally); to raise, or cause to move upwards (particularly in ships or vehicles) or forwards.
    • 1647, Robert Herrick, Noble Numbers
      Here a little child I stand, / Heaving up my either hand.
  7. (intransitive) To be thrown up or raised; to rise upward, as a tower or mound.
  8. (transitive, mining, geology) To displace (a vein, stratum).
  9. (transitive, now rare) To cause to swell or rise, especially in repeated exertions.
    The wind heaved the waves.
  10. (transitive, intransitive, nautical) To move in a certain direction or into a certain position or situation.
    to heave the ship ahead
    • 1914, Edgar Rice Burroughs, At the Earth's Core[2], The Gutenberg Project:
      Pausing there I waited until the foremost Sagoth hove into sight.
  11. (intransitive) To retch, to make an effort to vomit; to vomit.
    The smell of the old cheese was enough to make you heave.
  12. (intransitive) To make an effort to raise, throw, or move anything; to strain to do something difficult.
    • 1687, Francis Atterbury, a sermon, An Answer to some Considerations on the Spirit of Martin Luther, and the Original of the Reformation at Oxford
      She [The Church of England] had struggled and heaved at a reformation ever since Wickliff's days.
  13. (obsolete, Britain, thieves' cant) To rob; to steal from; to plunder.
    • 1611, Thomas Middleton, “The Roaring Girl”, in Bullen, Arthur Henry, editor, The Works of Thomas Middleton[3], volume 4, published 1885, Act 5, Scene 1, pages 128–129:
      Ben mort, shall you and I heave a bough, mill a ken, or nip a bung, and then we'll couch a hogshead under the ruffmans, and there you shall wap with me, and I'll niggle with you.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


  • Danish: hive
  • Faroese: hiva
  • Norwegian Nynorsk: hiva, hive
  • Norwegian Bokmål: hive
  • Scanian: hyva
    Hallandian: hiva
  • Swedish: hiva
    Sudermannian: hyva
  • Westrobothnian: hyv



heave (plural heaves)

  1. An effort to raise something, such as a weight or one's own body, or to move something heavy.
  2. An upward motion; a rising; a swell or distention, as of the breast in difficult breathing, of the waves, of the earth in an earthquake, etc.
    • 1749, [John Cleland], “(Please specify the letter or volume)”, in Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure [Fanny Hill], London: [] G. Fenton [i.e., Fenton and Ralph Griffiths] [], OCLC 731622352:
      and now the bed shook, the curtains rattled so, that I could scarce hear the sighs and murmurs, the heaves and pantings that accompanied the action, from the beginning to the end
  3. A horizontal dislocation in a metallic lode, taking place at an intersection with another lode.
  4. (nautical) The measure of extent to which a nautical vessel goes up and down in a short period of time. Compare pitch.
  5. An effort to vomit; retching.
  6. (rare, only used attributively as in "heave line" or "heave horse") Broken wind in horses.
    • 1928, Farm Life - Volume 47, Issue 1, page 24:
      The dust would have to be watched out for with a heave horse, and most alfalfa hay...
    • 1988, New York State Veterinary College, Annual Conference for Veterinarians: Abstracts of Papers, page 14:
      The late stage is recognized by horse people as the true "heave" horse and at this stage most of the airways are partially or completely obstructed.
    • 2013, Lon D. Lewis, Feeding and Care of the Horse:
      The bay horse was straining at the time the picture was taken, making its heave line more noticeable.
  7. (cricket) A forceful shot in which the ball follows a high trajectory
    • 2019 July 14, Stephan Shemilt, “England win Cricket World Cup: Ben Stokes stars in dramatic finale against New Zealand”, in BBC Sport[4], London:
      That left 15 needed from Boult's final set. Two dots were followed by a heave over deep mid-wicket, then came the outrageous moment of fortune.


  1. ^ Orel, Vladimir (1998), “kap”, in Albanian Etymological Dictionary, Leiden, Boston, Cologne: Brill, →ISBN, page 169
  2. ^ Demiraj, Bardhyl (1997), “kap”, in Albanische Etymologien: Untersuchungen zum albanischen Erbwortschatz [Albanian Etymologies: Investigations into the Albanian Inherited Lexicon] (Leiden Studies in Indo-European; 7) (in German), Amsterdam, Atlanta: Rodopi