Cleaver: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

Last Updated on
September 28, 2023

1. Cleaver (noun): A large knife with a broad, flat blade, used primarily for chopping or cutting through hard substances, typically bone or thick meat.
2. Cleaver (noun): Someone who cleaves or splits, especially in the context of wood or stone.

The term "cleaver" primarily refers to a type of knife that plays a vital role in culinary settings. Understanding its design, use, and origins is essential for anyone involved in cooking or butchery.

"Cleaver" Definition: What Does "Cleaver" Mean?

The word "cleaver" describes a distinct type of knife known for its hefty weight and broad blade. It is specially designed to handle tough cutting jobs, such as breaking down large cuts of meat or chopping through bones. In addition to its culinary use, the term can also refer to an individual or any tool that splits or divides.

  • Kitchen Cleaver: A heavy knife used by chefs and butchers for chopping meat, fish, and sometimes vegetables.
  • Butcher's Cleaver: A variant of the kitchen cleaver specifically designed for cutting through bones and joints.
  • Splitting Cleaver: A tool resembling a cleaver used in woodworking or stone carving to split materials.

Parts of Speech

The word "cleaver" is a noun. It typically refers to a tool with a broad blade, used by butchers for hacking through bone or other heavy-duty cutting tasks.

How to Pronounce "Cleaver"?

The pronunciation of "cleaver" is relatively simple and is consistent across most English dialects.

Phonetic Pronunciation: ˈkliːvər (Stress on 'kliː')

Synonyms of "Cleaver": Other Ways to Say "Cleaver"

The term "cleaver" has a few synonyms, mostly pertaining to its physical form and function. However, each synonym carries nuanced differences in meaning and usage.

  • Chopper
  • Butcher knife
  • Meat knife
  • Hatchet (in certain contexts)
  • Splitter (for the non-culinary meaning)

Antonyms of "Cleaver": Other Ways to Say "Cleaver"

Unlike synonyms, antonyms of "cleaver" aren't many. They primarily revolve around joining or merging, as opposed to cutting or separating.

  • Binder
  • Joiner

Examples of "Cleaver" in a Sentence

The use of "cleaver" in a sentence generally revolves around its function as a cutting tool.

Here are ten sentences that demonstrate its various contexts:

1. The butcher swung the cleaver skillfully, separating the joints with ease.
2. Today, I learned about the history of the cleaver and its various applications.
3. I need a new cleaver for the kitchen; the old one has dulled over time.
4. The metaphorical cleaver of distrust severed their long-standing friendship.
5. Before using it for the first time, test the sharpness of your cleaver.
6. The chef honed his cleaver before starting on the large cut of beef.
7. The kitchenware store will provide a new cleaver for our culinary needs.
8. The quality of a cleaver is judged by its sharpness and durability.
The chef sharpened his cleaver to a tee, ensuring it sliced perfectly.
10. I can't wait to showcase my new cleaver at the culinary demonstration.

Frequency of Use

"Cleaver" is more commonly used in culinary circles, butcher shops, and specific craft or trade settings. Its usage may not be as widespread as some everyday terms but remains essential in relevant professions.

Variants of "Cleaver"

"Cleaver" does not have many variants in the context of a knife. However, the verb form "to cleave" can have different conjugations and related terms.

1. Cleave: The verb form implies cutting or splitting.
2. Cleaved: The past tense of cleave indicates a completed action of cutting or splitting.

Related Terms to "Cleaver"

Several terms are related to "cleaver," each with its specific meaning and application. These terms often describe various tools or methods used in conjunction with cleaving.

1. Hatchet
2. Machete
3. Axe
4. Knife
5. Chopper
6. Blade
7. Splitter
8. Divider

Etymology: History and Origins of "Cleaver"

The word "cleaver" can be traced back to Middle English, originating from the word cleve, which means "to split" or "to cleave." Its use as a term for a butcher's tool reflects this original sense of division or cutting.

Derivatives and Compounds of "Cleaver"

"Cleaver" has given rise to several derivatives and compounds that relate to cutting or splitting. These words are often formed by combining "cleaver" with other terms or adapting their base form.

  • Cleavage: A term denoting the action of splitting or the state of being split.
  • Cleavable: An adjective indicating the ability to be split or divided.

Common Misspellings of "Cleaver"

The correct spelling of "cleaver" is crucial for accurate communication. However, common misspellings occur, often leading to confusion.

Here are some common misspellings and incorrect forms of "cleaver":

1. Cleever
2. Clevar
3. Clevor

10 Idioms Similar to "Cleaver"

While few idioms incorporate the word "cleaver," there are idioms related to cutting or splitting, which capture the essence of a cleaver's function.

1. Cut to the chase
2. Draw a line in the sand
3. Drive a wedge between
4. Split hairs
5. Break the ice
6. Carve out a niche
7. Cut someone some slack
8. On the chopping block
9. Cut corners
10. Cut a rug

10 Common Questions About "Cleaver"

The multifaceted nature of "cleaver" sparks curiosity and questions. Uncovering answers sheds light on its practical and metaphorical dimensions.

1. What is a "cleaver" used for in the kitchen?

A "cleaver" is primarily used for chopping, slicing, and dicing meat, particularly through bone.

2. How does a "cleaver" differ from a regular knife?

A "cleaver" has a broader and heavier blade designed for cutting through hard materials like bone, unlike a regular knife, which has a thinner, lighter blade for slicing.

3. Can a "cleaver" be used as a weapon?

Though designed as a kitchen tool, a "cleaver" can potentially be used as a weapon due to its sharp, heavy blade.

4. What is the metaphorical use of "cleaver"?

Metaphorically, "cleaver" can represent a force or action causing a decisive separation or division.

5. How to maintain a "cleaver"?

Maintenance involves regular sharpening, cleaning, and proper storage to ensure its longevity and effectiveness.

6. Why is the "cleaver" often associated with butchers?

The "cleaver" is a quintessential tool for butchers due to its effectiveness in chopping meat and bone, hence the strong association.

7. Can "cleaver" be used as a verb?

While "cleave" is the verb form, "cleaver" is not commonly used as a verb.

8. What materials are "cleavers" typically made of?

"Cleavers" are typically made of stainless steel, although they can also be found in carbon steel or other metals.

9. How do you choose a good "cleaver"?

Choosing a good "cleaver" involves considering the blade material, handle comfort, weight, and balance to ensure it meets your needs.

10. What are some safety tips when using a "cleaver"?

Ensuring a secure grip, cutting on a stable surface, keeping fingers tucked away, and storing the "cleaver" safely are vital safety tips.


The "cleaver" is a unique tool, essential in specific culinary contexts and distinguished by its design and function. Recognizing its history, use, and maintenance ensures that it serves its role efficiently and safely in the kitchen. For more definitions of words, check out our entire section to help expand your vocabulary.

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