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Etymology 1[edit]

Old English rēfa, an aphetism of ġerēfa. Cognate to Danish greve, Swedish greve. Role, and later word, mostly replaced by Anglo-Norman bailiff.


reeve ‎(plural reeves)

  1. (historical) Any of several local officials, with varying responsibilities.
    • 1999, Bede, Judith McClure, Roger Collins, editor, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People[1], Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780192838667, page 99:
      His first convert was the reeve of the city of Lincoln call Blæcca, ...
  2. (Canada) The president of a township or municipal district council.
  3. (military, historical) A proposed but unadopted commissioned rank of the Royal Air Force equivalent to wing commander.
    • 1936, The Periodical (Oxford University Press), volumes 21–22, page 67
      A list of new titles was manufactured as follows: Ensign, Lieutenant, Flight-Leader, Squadron-Leader, Reeve, Banneret, Fourth-Ardian, Third-Ardian, Second-Ardian, Ardian, Air Marshal. […] “Reeve”, perhaps, savoured a little too much of legal authority.


Related terms[edit]

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Etymology 2[edit]

Apparent alternate form of reef ‎(to pull or yank strongly, verb)


reeve ‎(third-person singular simple present reeves, present participle reeving, simple past and past participle reeved)

  1. (nautical, dialect) To pass a rope through a hole or opening, especially so as to fasten it.
    • 1930, William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying, Library of America, 1985, p.98:
      "Let the rope go," he says. With his other hand he reaches down and reeves the two turns from the stanchion.

Etymology 3[edit]

EB1911 - Volume 01 - Page 001 - 1.svg This entry lacks etymological information. If you are familiar with the origin of this term, please add it to the page per etymology instructions.


reeve ‎(plural reeves)

  1. A female of the species Philomachus pugnax, a highly gregarious, medium-sized wading bird of Eurasia; the male is a ruff.