shelf

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Related to shelfed: shelved

top-shelf

1. Of a high, excellent, or superior quality. Jim was drinking top-shelf liquor all night on his birthday. I can't imagine the bar tab he must have racked up! My brother-in-law is always driving around town in the latest top-shelf car.
2. Of or containing pornography. Few realize that the newspaper mogul got his start by distributing top-shelf magazines to newsagents in the '70s.

shelf life

The length of time that something is viable or useful. Milk has a very short shelf life, as it tends to expire quickly. I'm hoping that this product will have a very long shelf life and be useful for years to come.
See also: life, shelf

put (one) on the shelf

To render someone unable or unavailable to do something. Sorry, I can't play in Saturday's game. My old knee injury flared up again and has put me on the shelf for a few weeks at least.
See also: on, put, shelf

put (something) on the shelf

To cause something to be delayed or put on hiatus. Once my wife became pregnant, I knew I had to put my plans of starting my own business on the shelf for a while.
See also: on, put, shelf

off the shelf

Ready made for purchase from available stock; not custom built or crafted. (Hyphenated if used before a noun.) We use our own custom software, so we can offer much more precision than what you can find off the shelf. While many off-the-shelf hearing aids are inexpensive, they are much more prone to failure than those prescribed by a doctor.
See also: off, shelf

on the shelf

1. Inactive, as in work or socially. I can't go out and get a job—I've been on the shelf for nearly 30 years! I kept myself on the shelf throughout college. Now I really regret not being more outgoing and making friends.
2. Postponed or suspended; rendered unable or unavailable for use. We'll have to put this on the shelf until we get the fund necessary to complete it.
3. Of a woman, unmarried and unlikely to ever be due to her age. Old-fashioned; potentially offensive in modern use. Primarily heard in UK. Afraid of being left on the shelf, Amy joined several online dating sites in the hopes of meeting someone special.
See also: on, shelf

off the shelf

Fig. ready made for purchase; not custom-made. (Hyphenated when prenominal.) I generally buy off-the-shelf clothing. I am a perfect size eight.
See also: off, shelf

on the shelf

 
1. Fig. not active socially; left to oneself in social matters. (Alludes to being left or stored on a shelf.) I've been on the shelf long enough. I'm going to make some friends. She likes being on the shelf.
2. Fig. postponed. We'll have to put this matter on the shelf for a while. I have a plan on the shelf just waiting for an opportunity like this.
See also: on, shelf

off the shelf

Ready-made, available from merchandise or in stock, as opposed to a special order. For example, Sometimes you can get a better discount by buying an appliance off the shelf. [First half of 1900s] Also see off the rack; on the shelf.
See also: off, shelf

on the shelf

1. Inactive, not employed, as in With mandatory retirement at 65, many useful employees are put on the shelf. [Second half of 1500s]
2. In a state of disuse, as in We'll have to put her proposal on the shelf until we have more funds. [Late 1800s]
3. Without prospects of marriage. For example, After she broke her third engagement, her parents were sure she'd be on the shelf. This usage is always said of a woman and today considered offensive. It is probably obsolescent. [Early 1800s] All these usages allude to an article left on the shelf of a store, bookcase, or the like.
See also: on, shelf

on the shelf

BRITISH, OLD-FASHIONED
If a woman is on the shelf, she is not married and is now too old for men to want to marry her. I certainly don't worry that I'm on the shelf just because I'm single! You can't pretend you're keen on someone just because you're afraid of being left on the shelf. Note: Many people dislike this expression because of the sexist attitude which it represents.
See also: on, shelf

shelf life

If something has a particular shelf life, it will only last for that length of time, rather than continuing forever. A large proportion of small businesses have a very short shelf life. Our aim is to build a policy that will have a shelf life of more than 30 months. Note: The shelf life of a food, drink, or medicine is the length of time it can be kept before it is too old to sell or use.
See also: life, shelf

off the shelf

not designed or made to order but taken from existing stock or supplies.
See also: off, shelf

on the shelf

1 (of people or things) no longer useful or desirable. 2 (of a woman) past an age when she might expect to have the opportunity to marry. 3 (of a music recording or a film) awaiting release on the market after being recorded.
See also: on, shelf

buy, get, etc. something off the ˈshelf

buy, etc. something which is not made especially for somebody, and is found in an ordinary shop/store: Did they buy the computer system off the shelf or was it designed specially for them?
See also: off, shelf, something

on the ˈshelf

(informal)
1 (especially of women) not married and unlikely to marry because you are no longer young: Some women used to think they were on the shelf if they weren’t married at 30.
2 not wanted by anyone; not used: Unemployed people often feel they’ve been left on the shelf.
See also: on, shelf

off-the-shelf

mod. readily available; purchasable without any special difficulties or delays. This is just plain old off-the-shelf hand lotion. Isn’t it great?

on the shelf

1. mod. not active socially; left to oneself in social matters. I’ve been on the shelf long enough. I’m going to make some friends.
2. mod. postponed. (see also on the back burner.) We’ll have to put this matter on the shelf for a while.
See also: on, shelf

off the shelf

From ready-made merchandise in stock: supplies that were available off the shelf.
See also: off, shelf

on the shelf

1. In a state of disuse or inactivity: The injured goalie has been on the shelf for weeks.
2. Out of consideration: The finance bill is on the shelf until next year.
See also: on, shelf