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Probably from Old English scylfe(deck of a ship), distantly related to sculpt, carve and shell. Cognate to Dutch schelf.



shelf ‎(plural shelves)

  1. A flat, rigid, rectangular structure, fixed at right angles to a wall or forming a part of a cabinet, desk etc., and used to support, store or display objects.
    • 2012 October 31, David M. Halbfinger, "[1]," New York Times (retrieved 31 October 2012):
      Localities across New Jersey imposed curfews to prevent looting. In Monmouth, Ocean and other counties, people waited for hours for gasoline at the few stations that had electricity. Supermarket shelves were stripped bare.
  2. The capacity of such an object; as, a shelf of videos.
  3. A projecting ledge that resembles such an object.
  4. A reef, shoal or sandbar.


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