Shelf Shelf, n.; pl. {Shelves}. [OE. shelfe, schelfe, AS. scylfe; akin to G. schelfe, Icel. skj[=a]lf. In senses 2 & 3, perhaps a different word (cf. {Shelve}, v. i.).] 1. (Arch.) A flat tablet or ledge of any material set horizontally at a distance from the floor, to hold objects of use or ornament. [1913 Webster]

2. A sand bank in the sea, or a rock, or ledge of rocks, rendering the water shallow, and dangerous to ships. [1913 Webster]

On the tawny sands and shelves. --Milton. [1913 Webster]

On the secret shelves with fury cast. --Dryden. [1913 Webster]

3. (Mining) A stratum lying in a very even manner; a flat, projecting layer of rock. [1913 Webster]

4. (Naut.) A piece of timber running the whole length of a vessel inside the timberheads. --D. Kemp. [1913 Webster]

{To lay on the shelf}, to lay aside as unnecessary or useless; to dismiss; to discard. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.