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From Middle English heven, hebben, from Old English hebban, from Proto-Germanic *habjaną (to take up, lift) (compare West Frisian heffe, Dutch heffen, German heben, Danish hæve), from Proto-Indo-European *kh₂pyéti, from the root *keh₂p- (compare Old Irish cáin (law, tribute), cacht (prisoner), Latin capiō (to take), Latvian kàmpt (to seize), Albanian kap (I grasp, seize), Ancient Greek κάπτω (káptō, to gulp down), κώπη (kṓpē, handle)).


  • 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.
    • Prior
      Frequent for breath his panting bosom heaves.
    • Byron
      the heaving plain of ocean
  4. (transitive) To utter with effort.
    She heaved a sigh and stared out of the window.
    • Shakespeare
      The wretched animal heaved forth such groans.
  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.
    • Herrick
      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.
    • Alexander Pope
      And the huge columns heave into the sky.
    • Gray
      where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap
    • E. Everett
      the heaving sods of Bunker Hill
  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[1], The Gutenberg Project:
      The Sagoths were now not over two hundred and fifty yards behind us, and I saw that it was hopeless for us to expect to escape other than by a ruse. There was a bare chance of saving Ghak and Perry, and as I reached the branching of the canyon I took the chance. Pausing there I waited until the foremost Sagoth hove into sight. Ghak and Perry had disappeared around a bend in the left-hand canyon,
  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.
    • Atterbury
      The Church of England had struggled and heaved at a reformation ever since Wyclif's days.
  13. (obsolete, Britain, thieves' cant) To rob; to steal from; to plunder.
    • 1611, Middleton, Thomas, “The Roaring Girl”, in Bullen, Arthur Henry, editor, The Works of Thomas Middleton[2], 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.

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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], Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure [Fanny Hill], London: Printed [by Thomas Parker] for 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. Broken wind in horses.