stave off

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stave off

To defend against or keep someone or something at bay; to delay something. A noun or pronoun can be used between "stave" and "off." 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.
See also: off, stave

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 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

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 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 ?
She is the most beautiful of dusky Dianas [Diana = goddess of the woods] and the belle of the Piccaninnies, coquettish [flirting], cold and amorous [loving] by turns; there is not a brave who would not have the wayward thing to wife, but she staves off the altar with a hatchet.
Global Banking News-May 3, 2013--UBS staves off Knight Vinke's call to hive investment bank(C)2013 ENPublishing - http://www.enpublishing.co.uk
The twin forces of female friendship and sexual competition drive the novel and the delicate balance of female relationships staves off the total destruction that always seems possible.
The new coating material staves off clotting because its copper ions catalyze the production of nitric oxide in the blood, says Mark Meyerhoff of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
While Howey staves off body angst with rhinestone earrings and a "rainbow palette of department-store eye shadows," her father camouflages his desire for similar accessories by nicknaming himself Duke, taking up bowling, and subscribing to Esquire.
Plain nickel catalysts generate polluting methane along with hydrogen, but the addition of tin staves off methane formation, says Dumesic.