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

  • transitive v. To seize and carry off forcibly.
  • transitive v. To deprive (one) of something; bereave.
  • intransitive v. To rob, plunder, or pillage.
  • transitive v. Archaic To break or tear apart.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To plunder, pillage, rob, pirate, or remove.
  • v. To split, tear, break apart.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To take away by violence or by stealth; to snatch away; to rob; to despoil; to bereave. [Archaic].

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To take away by force or stealth; carry off as booty; take violently; purloin, especially in a foray: with a thing as object.
  • To take away; remove; abstract; draw off.
  • To rob; plunder; dispossess; bereave: with a person as object.
  • To tear up, as the rafters or roof of a house.
  • To ravel; pull to pieces, as a textile fabric.
  • To practise plundering or pillaging; carry off stolen property.

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

  • v. steal goods; take as spoils


Middle English reven, to plunder, from Old English rēafian; see reup- in Indo-European roots.
Middle English reven, possibly alteration (influenced by reven, to plunder) of Old Norse rīfa, to rive.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English reven, from Old English rēafian, from Proto-Germanic *raubōnan (compare West Frisian rave, German rauben, Danish røve), from *raubō (compare Old English rēaf 'spoils, booty'), from *reufanan 'to tear' (compare Old English past participle rofen 'torn, broken', Norwegian rjuva), from Proto-Indo-European *Hréup-e/o- (compare Latin rumpere ("to break"), Lithuanian rùpti 'to roughen', Sanskrit ropayati 'to make suffer'). See rob. (Wiktionary)
Alteration of rive by confusion with the above. (Wiktionary)


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  • One day I saw an old frayed but strong rope on this path, cast away on a tree stump, and I thought: yes, that is the awful end of such thoughts. Had I actually been tempted to kill myself? Aghast at the thought I took the rope back and reaved it up for use.

    - Malcolm Lowry, The Forest Path to the Spring

    July 13, 2008