stave

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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.
See also: off, stave

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.
See also: off, stave

stave off something

also 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
See also: off, stave

stave off

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]
See also: off, stave

stave in

v.
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

stave off

v.
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.
See also: off, stave
References in classic literature ?
Rosa went down, and immediately after returned with two staves of a small barrel and a large roll of linen bandage.
Behind him rode six others, two and two, clad in sober brown jerkins, with the long yellow staves of their bows thrusting out from behind their right shoulders.
The staves of the barrel and the wheels of the trolley were smeared with a dark liquid, and the whole air was heavy with the smell of creasote.
An empty dog-kennel, some bones of animals, fragments of iron hoops, and staves of old casks, lay strewn about, but no life was stirring there.
White men with long staves in their hands appeared languidly from amongst the buildings, strolling up to take a look at me, and then retired out of sight somewhere.
I had a small runlet or two, as I observed before; but I could never arrive at the capacity of making one by them, though I spent many weeks about it; I could neither put in the heads, or join the staves so true to one another as to make them hold water; so I gave that also over.