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See also: Shiv


A Soviet-era Russian shiv.

Alternative forms[edit]


First attested 1915. From chive, chieve, chife, chiv (knife), from Romani chive, chiv, chivvomengro (knife, dagger, blade).[1][2][3][4]


  • IPA(key): /ʃɪv/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪv
  • (file)


shiv (plural shivs)

  1. A knife, especially a makeshift one fashioned from something not normally used as a weapon (like a plastic spoon or a toothbrush).
    Synonym: (slang) shank
    • 1971, Abbie Hoffman, “Introduction”, in Steal This Book, Pirate Editions / Grove Press:
      It's perhaps fitting that I write this introduction in jail—that graduate school of survival. Here you learn how to use toothpaste as glue, fashion a shiv out of a spoon and build intricate communication networks.
  2. A particular woody by-product of processing flax or hemp.

Derived terms[edit]



shiv (third-person singular simple present shivs, present participle shivving, simple past and past participle shivved)

  1. To stab someone with a shiv.
  2. (by extension) To stab someone with anything not normally used as a stabbing weapon.




  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “shiv”, in Online Etymology Dictionary, retrieved 6 July 2017: “"a razor," 1915, variant of chive, thieves' cant word for "knife" (1670s), of unknown origin.”.
  2. ^ shiv”, in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: “Alteration of chiv, of unknown origin. First known use: 1915”
  3. ^ shiv”, in Collins English Dictionary, accessed 6 July 2017; from Michael Agnes, editor, Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th edition, Cleveland, Oh.: Wiley, 2010, →ISBN: “Word origin of 'shiv': earlier chiv, prob. < Romany chiv, blade”.
  4. ^ shiv”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022. "Probably from Romany chiv ‘blade’."