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stave (someone or something) off
To keep someone or something at bay; to defend against someone or something; to delay or postpone someone or something. He's been trying to scrounge up money so that he can stave off his creditors for a while longer. An old trick is to suck on a pebble to stave your thirst off.
stave someone or something off
to hold someone or something off; to defend against the attack of someone or something. (See also stave something off.) The citizen was not able to stave the mugger off. The army staved off the attackers for three hours without letup.
stave something off
to delay or postpone something unwanted, such as hunger, foreclosure, death, etc. (See also stave someone or something off.) He could stave his thirst off no longer. Despite the enemy sentries, he made a dash for the stream. The lost hiker could not stave off her hunger any longer.
Keep or hold away, repel, as in The Federal Reserve Board is determined to stave off inflation. This metaphoric expression transfers beating something off with a staff or stave to nonphysical repulsion. [c. 1600]
To keep or hold someone or something off; repel someone or something: I staved the attackers off with my umbrella. Health officials are trying to stave off an outbreak of disease.