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Shelf vs. shelve

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  • Shelf is always a noun, and shelve is always a verb. When you shelve something, you put it on a shelf. The main definitions of the noun are (1) a horizontal surface supported by a vertical structure and used to store things, (2) a layer of ice or bedrock, and (3) something that resembles a shelf. The verb, shelve, means (1) to put [something] on a shelf, (2) to set aside, or (3) to slope gradually.

    The plural of shelf is shelves. Shelve is inflected shelved, shelving, and shelves.

    Examples

    Shelf

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    One out of every eight boxes of cereal to leave the shelf in America carries the Cheerios name. [AP]

    Her walk-in closet includes shelves all the way to the ceiling. [New York Times]

    The environmental group says this includes seafood labelling, tracing fish from ocean to shelf and avoiding the sale of fish that are illegally caught. [CTV]

    Shelve

    Councillors in Bath have voted to shelve plans for a controversial park-and-ride at Bathampton Meadows. [BBC]

    Credit cards have also been shelved until the end of the tournament. [Sydney Morning Herald]

    A major American utility is shelving the nation’s most prominent effort to capture carbon dioxide. [New York Times]

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