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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English shaven, schaven, from Old English sċafan (to shave, scrape, shred, polish), from Proto-Germanic *skabaną (to scratch), from Proto-Indo-European *skÀbʰ-, *skabʰ- (to cut, split, form, carve). Cognate with West Frisian skave, Dutch schaven (to shave, plane), Low German schaven (to scrape, scratch, shave), German schaben (to scrape, shave), Danish skave, Swedish skava (to scrape, chafe), Icelandic skafa, Gothic 𐍃𐌺𐌰𐌱𐌰𐌽 (skaban, to shear, shave).


shave (third-person singular simple present shaves, present participle shaving, simple past shaved or (obsolete) shove, past participle shaved or shaven)

  1. (transitive) To make bald by using a tool such as a razor or pair of electric clippers to cut the hair close to the skin.
  2. (transitive) To cut anything in this fashion.
    • The labourer with the bending scythe is seen / Shaving the surface of the waving green.
  3. (intransitive) To remove hair from one's face by this means.
    I had little time to shave this morning.
  4. (transitive) To cut finely, as with slices of meat.
  5. To skim along or near the surface of; to pass close to, or touch lightly, in passing.
    • Milton
      Now shaves with level wing the deep.
    • 1899, Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, section 2
      [] I watched for sunken stones; I was learning to clap my teeth smartly before my heart flew out, when I shaved by a fluke some infernal sly old snag that would have ripped the life out of the tin–pot steamboat and drowned all the pilgrims; []
  6. To reduce in size or weight.
    • 2017 September 19, Gwilym Mumford, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle review – spy sequel reaches new heights of skyscraping silliness”, in the Guardian[1]:
      Kingsman’s two-hour 20-minute running time could have been shaved by around a fifth, without losing a great deal.
  7. (archaic, transitive) To be hard and severe in a bargain with; to practice extortion on; to cheat.
  8. (US, slang, dated, transitive) To buy (a note) at a discount greater than the legal rate of interest, or to deduct in discounting it more than the legal rate allows.
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Etymology 2[edit]

Old English sceafa


shave (plural shaves)

  1. An instance of shaving.
    I instructed the barber to give me a shave.
  2. A thin slice; a shaving.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Wright to this entry?)
  3. (US, slang, dated) An exorbitant discount on a note.
  4. (US, slang, dated) A premium paid for an extension of the time of delivery or payment, or for the right to vary a stock contract in any particular.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of N. Biddle to this entry?)
  5. A hand tool consisting of a sharp blade with a handle at each end; a spokeshave.
Derived terms[edit]