Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1300-1400
Language: Middle Low German
Origin: schelf

shelf

noun
     
Related topics: Furniture, Geology, Geography
shelf S3 W3 plural shelves
1 [countable]DHF a long flat narrow board attached to a wall or in a frame or cupboard, used for putting things on
top/bottom/next etc shelf
Put it back on the top shelf.
shelves of books
supermarket shelves
the amount of shelf space available
2 [countable]HEG a narrow surface of rock shaped like a shelf, especially under water continental shelf
3

off-the-shelf

BBT available to be bought immediately, without having to be specially designed or ordered:
off-the-shelf software packages
off-the-peg
4

be (left) on the shelf

a) if something is left on the shelf, it is not used or considered:
The album stayed on the shelf for several years, until it was finally released.
b) British English old-fashioned to be considered too old to get married, used especially of women

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