stave(redirected from staves)
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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 in
to crush something in. (The past tense is usually stove with ships, and otherwise, staved.) The rocks on the reef staved the hull of the ship in. The angry sailor staved in the cask of rum.
See also: stave
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.
stave off somethingalso stave something off
to keep something away or keep something from happening The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates to boost the economy and stave off a recession. Death is natural and inevitable - we can't stave it off forever.Related vocabulary: fend off something
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 break or smash a hole in something: The firefighters staved the door in. I staved in the barrel with an axe.
See also: stave
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.