Definition of “shelf” - English Dictionary

“shelf” in British English

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shelfnoun [ C ]

uk /ʃelf/ us /ʃelf/ plural shelves

A2 a long, flat board fixed horizontally, usually against a wall or inside a cupboard so that objects can be stored on it:

a glass shelf
on the top/bottom shelf
One wall had shelves from floor to ceiling, crammed with books.
See also

specialized geology a flat area of rock underwater or on a cliff

off the shelf

If a product can be bought off the shelf, it does not need to be specially made or asked for:

It's often cheaper if you buy wallpaper off the shelf, rather than having to order it.
off-the-shelf goods/clothes
remove sth from your shelves

When a shop removes something from its shelves, that product stops being available for sale there.

More examples

  • I've put the cake on a high shelf where he can't get at it.
  • She arranged her birthday cards along the shelf.
  • He lifted the box carefully down from the shelf.
  • I hit my head on the shelf as I was standing up.
  • The books were organized on the shelves according to their size.

Idiom(s)

(Definition of “shelf” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“shelf” in American English

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shelfnoun [ C ]

us /ʃelf/ plural shelves /ʃelvz/

a long, flat board hung on a wall or supported by a frame or cabinet, used to hold objects:

Her shelves are filled with books and photographs.

Idiom(s)

(Definition of “shelf” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

“shelf” in Business English

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shelfnoun [ C ]

uk /ʃelf/ uk /ʃelvz/ us plural shelves

a long flat board fixed horizontally, for example against a wall or inside a cupboard, on which objects are stored or shown for sale:

In another room, stacked on every available shelf are four to five hundred large storage boxes.
Supermarket shelves are filled with cheap, mass-produced food that is packed with calories.
fill/refill the shelves
stock/restock the shelves
The manufacturer has asked retailers to remove the product from the shelves.
off the shelf

COMMERCE, MARKETING if a product can be bought off the shelf, it does not need to be specially made or requested:

It's often cheaper if you buy wallpaper off the shelf, rather than having to order it.
The electronic components needed to make the sensors were easily available off the shelf.

(Definition of “shelf” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)