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Sheath vs. sheathe

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  • If you know the difference between breath and breathe, then you should be comfortable with sheath and sheathe. Like breath, sheath is only a noun. It means (1) a case for a blade, or (2) a close-fitting dress (and there are a few less common senses that most of us will never have to use). Like breathe, sheathe is always a verb. It means to insert something into a sheath. Its opposite is unsheathe.

    Examples

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    Multiple sclerosis is defined as a chronic progressive nervous disorder involving loss of myelin sheath around certain nerve fibres. [Healthcare Today]

    Health begins to return as soon as you sheathe your sword. [AV Club]

    A hunting knife in a sheath, a ski mask, glasses and a full can of soda were found Friday in a yard in the 1400 block of Hiatt Street. [Albany Democrat Herald]

    Never one to sheathe his message in “double entendres” and fuckwittery, Roger Miret’s songwriting on Gotta Get Up Now is simple, succinct and pointed. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

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    Comments

    1. Don’t you mean “… . to insert something into a sheath.” ?

    2. What about pluralised forms of the noun? Sheaths or sheathes?

    3. Dan TheMan Corcoran says:

      What about usage in the building industry, to sheath(e) a wall with plywood? I always used sheath, for the past 18 years of my architectural practice.. just had someone correct it to sheathe.

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