Definition of heave in English:

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Pronunciation: /hēv/

verb (pastand past participle heaved or chiefly Nautical hove /hōv/)

1 [with object] Lift or haul (a heavy thing) with great effort: she heaved the sofa back into place he heaved himself out of bed
More example sentences
  • I heaved myself up and hauled my bag back onto my shoulders.
  • By the time I heaved myself into action, lifting Harry carefully and putting him down on my nicely warmed chair the fireworks had finished and the night was quiet once more.
  • Bastian heaved himself to a sitting position with much effort.
haul, pull, lug, drag, draw, tug, heft
informal hump, yank
1.1 Nautical Pull, raise, or move (a boat or ship) by hauling on a rope or ropes.
Example sentences
  • He hired hundreds of labourers to heave a large boat, a passenger ferry, over a mountain in the Andes.
  • Finally I jump ashore and heave my boat out and carry it over the levee.
  • Where there was no obvious launch point George - adrenaline-charged - would heave the boat over walls or railings and clamber in.
1.2 informal Throw (something heavy): she heaved half a brick at him
More example sentences
  • Every day in every way there's enough to make one throw the newspaper across the room, heave a brick at the television set.
  • So he heaved a brick though the glass and grabbed it.
  • If you want to reach the disaffected youths who take to the streets to heave bricks at the police, you need to have a dialogue.
throw, fling, cast, toss, hurl, lob, pitch
informal chuck, sling
2 [with object] Produce (a sigh): he heaved a euphoric sigh of relief
More example sentences
  • John knelt and checked for a pulse, he heaved a sigh of relief when he found one, Jim wouldn't die just yet.
  • The second man heaved a sigh that was mocking in its false regret.
  • Breathing hard, Jacob simply stared for a few more seconds before I heaved a harsh sigh and tugged off my headphones.
let out, breathe, give, sigh;
emit, utter
3 [no object] Rise and fall rhythmically or spasmodically: his shoulders heaved as he panted
More example sentences
  • Her head bowed low, hair falling over her face, and her shoulders heaved.
  • Perhaps because of this, I felt acutely conscious of the way my shoulders were heaving, a rapid and seemingly exaggerated flapping motion.
  • He has his face in his hands, his shoulders heaving.
rise and fall, roll, swell, surge, churn, seethe, swirl
3.1Make an effort to vomit; retch: my stomach heaved
More example sentences
  • He spent the next few minutes bent in half, but even after his stomach was completely empty he continued to retch and heave but bring nothing up.
  • My stomach heaved and I ran to the toilet, retching and crying.
  • Her stomach clenched suddenly, heaving, and she had her answer.
retch, gag;
vomit, be sick, get sick
informal throw up, puke, hurl, spew, barf, upchuck, ralph


1An act of heaving, especially a strong pull.
Example sentences
  • It is characterised with gentle hand movements, a distinctive heave of the torso and soft walk.
  • The vomiting soon turned into dry heaves, then coughs finally transforming into heart wrenching, soul shaking sobs.
  • Zane was struggling, his breaths coming in short heaves and his face turning red.
1.1 Geology A sideways displacement in a fault.
Example sentences
  • In most, if not all, cases it is clear that volumetric contraction has occurred with horizontal contraction of the sediments complementing the heave of the faults.
  • Many of these faults are characterized by heaves ranging from several to tens of kilometres.
  • Entrance is signalled by a change of material, where the whole of the lower storey seems to shift to the right as if following some sort of geological heave.
2 (the heaves) informal A case of retching or vomiting: waiting for the heaves to subside
More example sentences
  • Elevation will come after the dry heaves are gone.
  • Luckily, most of it had been digested, so not much comes up; instead I'm stuck with the dry heaves as my body continues to convulse against my will.
  • There are no sudden jerks that will give those prone to motion sickness the heaves.
3 (heaves) A disease of horses, with labored breathing.


heave in sight (or into view)

chiefly Nautical Come into view: the three canoes hove into view
More example sentences
  • Thus began an uneasy night of watching our possessions like hawks and suspiciously eyeing up anyone who hove into view - this excluded the waiting staff who seemed to be doing their best to avoid us and/or forget our orders.
  • Today's revelations of the American meetings, the anger of Boyce and the faltering Labour lead in the polls will ensure that those around Blair continue to bite their nails as the last 96 hours of the campaign hove into view.
  • The chamber pot was shrouded in fog when I began to look for it, and then, as the wind blew stronger, it hove into view.

Phrasal verbs

heave to

Nautical (Of a boat or ship) come to a stop, especially by turning across the wind leaving the headsail backed: he hove to and dropped anchor
More example sentences
  • As they approached the coast of Western Australia the wind blew too heavily for the ship to make landfall and they had to heave to with close reefed topsails.
  • The ship was hove to and the men in charge of patching were swung over in rope slings.
  • The boat heaves to under power and waits, the skipper aware of the half-mile visibility in haze.



Pronunciation: /ˈhēvər/
Example sentences
  • Back in Philadelphia, by 1836, a general strike led by Irish coal heavers succeeded in securing a working day lasting from 6am until 6pm, with two hours allowed for meals.
  • The garbage being heaved out the car windows to the roadside says a lot about the heavers.


Old English hebban, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch heffen and German heben 'lift up'.

  • hefty from mid 19th century:

    This was originally a US dialect word formed from late Middle English heft ‘the weight of someone’, which came from Old English heave, also the source of Old English heavy. Heave-ho (Late Middle English) was originally a nautical expression, used when hauling a rope.

Words that rhyme with heave

achieve, believe, breve, cleave, conceive, deceive, eve, greave, grieve, interleave, interweave, khedive, leave, misconceive, naive, Neve, peeve, perceive, reave, receive, reive, relieve, reprieve, retrieve, sheave, sleeve, steeve, Steve, Tananarive, Tel Aviv, thieve, underachieve, upheave, weave, we've, Yves

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: heave

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