from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An evergreen tree (Syzygium aromaticum) native to the Moluccas and widely cultivated in warm regions for its aromatic dried flower buds.
  • n. A flower bud of this plant, used whole or ground as a spice. Often used in the plural.
  • n. One of the small sections of a separable bulb, as that of garlic.
  • v. A past tense of cleave1.
  • v. Archaic A past participle of cleave1.
  • v. Archaic A past tense of cleave2.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A very pungent aromatic spice, the unexpanded flower bud of the clove tree.
  • n. The tree Eugenia aromatica (syn. Caryophyllus aromatica), native to the Moluccas (Indonesian islands) which produces the spice.
  • n. An old English measure of weight, containing 7 pounds (3.2 kg), i.e. half a stone.
  • n. Any one of the separate bulbs that make up the larger bulb of garlic
  • v. Simple past of cleave.
  • n. A narrow valley with steep sides, used in areas of North America first settled by the Dutch

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cleft.
  • n. A cleft; a gap; a ravine; -- rarely used except as part of a proper name.
  • n. A very pungent aromatic spice, the unexpanded flower bud of the clove tree (Eugenia aromatica syn. Caryophullus aromatica), a native of the Molucca Isles.
  • n. One of the small bulbs developed in the axils of the scales of a large bulb, as in the case of garlic.
  • n. A weight. A clove of cheese is about eight pounds, of wool, about seven pounds.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Preterit, and formerly sometimes (for cloven, to which the o in pret. clove is due) past participle, of cleave.
  • n. One of the small bulbs formed in the axils of the scales of a mother bulb, as in garlic.
  • n. A ravine or rocky fissure; a gorge: as, the Kaaterskill clove in the Catskill mountains.
  • n. A very pungent aromatic spice, the dried flower-buds of Eugenia caryophyllata, of the natural order Myrtaccæ, originally of the Moluccas, but now cultivated in Zanzibar, the West Indies, Brazil, and other tropical regions. The tree is a handsome evergreen, from 15 to 30 feet high, with large, elliptic, smooth leaves and numerous purplish flowers on jointed stalks. Every part of the plant abounds in the volatile oil for which the flower-buds are prized. Cloves are very largely used as a spice, and in medicine for their stimulant and aromatic properties.
  • n. The tree which bears cloves.
  • n. [F. clou, a nail: see etym.] A long spike-nail.
  • n. In England, a weight of cheese, etc. A statute of 1430 makes the clove equal to 7 pounds.
  • n. A cleft; an opening: as, the clove in the roving-carriage of a cotton-jenny.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. aromatic flower bud of a clove tree; yields a spice
  • n. spice from dried unopened flower bud of the clove tree; used whole or ground
  • n. moderate sized very symmetrical red-flowered evergreen widely cultivated in the tropics for its flower buds which are source of cloves
  • n. one of the small bulblets that can be split off of the axis of a larger garlic bulb


Middle English, from Old French clou (de girofle), nail (of the clove tree), from Latin clāvus, nail.
Middle English, from Old English clufu; see gleubh- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
An alteration of Middle English clowe, from the first component of Old French clou de girofle, from Latin clāvus ("nail") for its shape. Also see clāva ("knotty branch, club") (Wiktionary)
From Middle English, from Old English clufu, cognate with cleofan 'to split', hence with the verbal etymology hereafter (Wiktionary)
From Dutch kloof (Wiktionary)



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