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

  • interj. Nautical Used as a command to stop or desist.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • interj. hold fast!; desist!; stay!.
  • interj. listen!; pay attention!.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • interj. Cease; stop; stay.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Nautical, stop! hold! cease! stay!


From Middle Dutch hou vast, hold fast : hou, houd, imperative of houden, to hold + vast, fast; see past- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the Dutch hou vast ("hold fast"). (Wiktionary)



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  • 5 examples here, but only one uses the word avast. Avast, a bug!

    February 1, 2010

  • It's a verb, I've always heard. Why would one say it's defective?

    September 28, 2009

  • What part of speech be avast? Karl 'Peg-leg' Hagen be concludin' 'tis a defective verb.

    September 28, 2009

  • "a nautical command to stop or cease" --Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary

    May 21, 2009