Friday, July 1, 2011

What does cleave mean?

In my 2010 blog, “What does a referee do?” I concluded with: “Again it just shows that even when using familiar words, they don't always have the meaning that we are familiar with, do they? And so we need to be careful at all times that we both know what the other means when using otherwise familiar words, don’t we?
So, are there any other familiar words that you have always used that now, you find have other meanings. Sometimes with totally opposite applications, like with “Cleave”.”
As at that time I had not heard of any other words, so thought I would share with you the meaning of Cleave. Sorry I mean the “Meanings’ of Cleave.”
For as I once discovered, cleave as two totally opposite and in my mind at least opposing meanings.
While we were still in South Africa and at a Church conference with the Indian congregations in the Port Shepstone area, they had a Marriage councillor come in and talk about Marriage and cleaving.
To a country boy brought up with Cleavers and the such, my only understanding of cleave was to violently and with force cleave or cut apart. However upon checking it out in a dictionary I found that this counsellor was right and that there are two distinct, and almost opposite meanings for Cleave.
The first is the common one and is used in any of the following ways:
1. To split or divide by or as if by a cutting blow, esp. along a natural line of division, as the grain of wood.
2. To make by or as if by cutting: to cleave a path through the wilderness.
3. To penetrate or pass through (air, water, etc.): The bow of the boat cleaved the water cleanly.
4. To cut off; sever: to cleave a branch from a tree. –verb (used without object)
5. To part or split, esp. along a natural line of division.
6. To penetrate or advance by or as if by cutting (usually fol. by through).
And secondly, with the opposite and rarer (at least to me) meaning of:
1. To adhere closely; stick; cling (usually fol. by to).
2. To remain faithful (usually fol. by to): to cleave to one's principles in spite of persecution.
So now that you know the two understandings of the word cleave, how do you cleave to other people today? Do you violently of forcibly separate yourself from them? Or do you faithfully cling to and remain faithfully to them? Again over to you now for your application.

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