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stave off

When you stave something off, you prevent it from happening. When you stave off a cold, you work to avoid getting one, maybe by drinking plenty of tea and eating oranges.

You might help stave off the closing of a library by donating money and writing letters to the city council, or stave off the winter blues by traveling to a Caribbean island for a week. The phrase to stave off has a long history, dating from 1620 when it was used to mean "fend off with a staff," the way you might stave off a pack of growling dogs.

Definitions of stave off
  1. verb
    prevent the occurrence of; prevent from happening
    synonyms: avert, avoid, debar, deflect, fend off, forefend, forfend, head off, obviate, ward off
    see moresee less
    type of:
    forbid, foreclose, forestall, preclude, preempt, prevent
    keep from happening or arising; make impossible
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