When I shelve only one thing, am I not putting it on one shelf?

As there are plenty of nouns used as verbs, why is it that I do not shelf, but rather shelve, an idea? Since the -lves is just the special case plural of -lf, it seems curious that the -lve is used to construct the verb form.

I looked up some of the etymology, but it is of little use:

1591, “to overhang,” back formation from shelves, plural of shelf. Meaning “put on a shelf” first recorded 1655; metaphoric sense of “lay aside, dismiss” is from 1812. Meaning “to slope gradually” (1614) is from M.E. shelven “to slope,” from shelfe “grassy slope,” related to shelf.

Is this an odd degredation of the word, or something else?


Whenever a verb and a noun are basically the same word, there is sometimes a tendency to differentiate their pronunciation. This can be done by shifting stress from one syllable to another: compare they will convict him with he is a convict. It can also be done by pronouncing a fricative (s, z, f, v) voiced (z, v) instead of voiceless (s, f): compare that is no use with I can’t use that.

The spelling shelve as opposed to shelf has little to do with the plural of the noun: it is just a marker of pronunciation. Because /fs/ is quite unusual in English, the plural shelves happens to be pronounced with a voiced fricative (v), which happens to be represented by its spelling.

Source : Link , Question Author : mfg , Answer Author : Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica

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