Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Language: Old English
Origin: cleofan. cleave to Old English clifian

cleave

verb
     
cleave past tense cleaved, clove, or cleft, past participle cleaved, cloven or cleft
1 [intransitive,transitive always + adverb/preposition] literary to cut something into separate parts using a heavy tool, or to be able to be cut in this way:
The wooden door had been cleft in two.
2 [transitive] formal to divide something into two completely separate parts:
the racial problems that still cleave American society
3

cleave the air/darkness etc

literary to move quickly through the air etc:
His fist cleft the air.

cleave to somebody/something

phrasal verb
1 formal to continue to think that a method, belief, person etc is true or valuable, even when this seems unlikely:
John still cleaves to his romantic ideals.
2 literary to stick to someone or something, or seem to surround them

Dictionary pictures of the day
Do you know what each of these is called?
What is the word for picture 1? What is the word for picture 2? What is the word for picture 3? What is the word for picture 4?
Click on any of the pictures above to find out what it is called.

Explore our topic dictionary