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Shelf vs. shelve

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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