Main meanings of cave in English

: cave1cave2


Pronunciation /keɪv/

Translate cave into Spanish


  • A natural underground chamber in a hillside or cliff.

    ‘the narrow gorge contains a series of prehistoric caves’
    • ‘This produces stalactites and related deposits in underground caves.’
    • ‘The cavern is a natural cave carved into the rock by the sea, and widened into an underground canal by human hands.’
    • ‘The cave has two main chambers, with a series of galleries and chambers leading off them.’
    • ‘The rock's many natural caves have been added to over the years by a series of remarkable tunnels.’
    • ‘Local monks have also taken advantages of the natural caves and have made them part of their temples.’
    • ‘It opens with an old woman relating a mythical tale of people trapped in an underground cave.’
    • ‘If we all lived underground in caves there would be fewer skin cancers, and if we all moved to Brisbane there would be more.’
    • ‘To the north lies Durness with the spectacular Smoo Cave, a limestone cave with a hole in the roof.’
    • ‘Many faults have karst features developed along them, with strings of caves visible along the faults.’
    • ‘The growth rate of stalactites and stalagmites in many caves today is of course quite slow.’
    • ‘The coastline is varied, dramatic and rugged, cut with caves, gullies, canyons and sheer cliffs.’
    • ‘The reef face is pockmarked by some fairly deep caves where only qualified cave divers should venture.’
    • ‘Bats spend the summer living in trees and buildings, and retreat to caves and potholes in winter, to hibernate.’
    • ‘Plato was not describing a real place any more than his allegory of the cave describes a real cave.’
    • ‘The Himalayan cave houses an icy stalagmite worshipped as an incarnation of the Hindu god Shiva.’
    • ‘Karim, dive instructor and owner of Deep South Diving, leads me through a series of caves at the back of the reef.’
    • ‘Other parts of Rainbow River are better known for caves and grottos.’
    • ‘The numerous caves and grottoes were long occupied by Palaeolithic peoples.’
    • ‘Steven Birch and a small team of archaeologists are excavating a remarkable cave on the Isle of Skye.’
    • ‘Entry to the caves was through a passage which led to a large chamber filled with water.’
    cavern, grotto, hollow, cavity, pothole, underground chamber, gallery, tunnel, dugout
    View synonyms


[no object]
  • 1Explore caves as a sport.

    ‘they say they cave for the adventure, challenge, and physical exercise’
    • ‘Most of the Polish cavers we caved with were hard.’
    • ‘Howard, Martin, Sweeny and Snablet caved back through Hang Ho into Pitch Cave to follow a lead there.’
    • ‘I found the way out quite a struggle; having not caved for 2 months I was a little out of practice.’
    • ‘Back when I was living out of a backpack I went caving in Budapest.’
  • 2US Capitulate or submit under pressure; cave in.

    ‘he caved because his position had become untenable’
    • ‘she finally caved in the face of his persistence’
    • ‘The dean promptly caved and told us that our party was now being called the ‘Annual’ party’
    • ‘Once again, we'd both wanted the same thing - and, as before, I caved and picked something else.’
    • ‘In other news: tonight I caved and bought the expensive cat litter.’
    • ‘Actually, five minutes into ‘Die Hard’ he caved and let me watch my movie.’
    • ‘Finally, after a shopping expedition on Saturday, I caved.’
    • ‘The studios and independents resisted at first on principle, then caved.’
    • ‘He caved, I assume to keep his job.’
    • ‘Eventually I told him that I refused to pay full price and he caved.’
    • ‘He will make his decision for football reasons - he won't cave.’
    • ‘Besides when it gets to Tuesday, I think someone will cave and pay our price.’
    collapse, fall in, give, give way, crumble, crumple, disintegrate, subside, fall down, sag, slump
    View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

    cave in
    • 1(of a roof or similar structure) subside or collapse.

      ‘the tunnel walls caved in’
      • ‘The roof is caving in, and bats have taken over the empty structure.’
      • ‘In one tiny schoolhouse the roof caved in after a heavy rain and prickly pear quickly began to take root inside.’
      • ‘Doors were rotting, roofs of buildings were caving in, streets were littered with rusting machine-like objects.’
      • ‘She felt as if at any moment the roof would cave in on her and bury her alive.’
      • ‘Then the roof started caving in at that end of the station, everything seemed to happen in slow motion.’
      • ‘Police wearing breathing masks manned posts to divert traffic away from the industrial estate where workers were evacuated from the blazing warehouse just as the roof was caving in.’
      • ‘We don't like to think about it, but what if you lose your job or the roof of your house caves in?’
      • ‘The roof caved in and the windscreen was smashed.’
      • ‘The roof caved in during the fire at the Chalkwell Park Rooms, a popular function suite on the edge of Chalkwell Park, Westcliff.’
      • ‘More than 500 people were believed to be in the 110,000 sq ft exhibition hall when the roof caved in.’
      • ‘The roof had caved in and trees were growing through the gaping hole.’
      • ‘He was apparently writing a letter to his family and there is speculation that he may have saved the life of the boy next to him by shielding him when the roof caved in on them.’
      • ‘The couple's hardwood floor was destroyed but that was not the end of their troubles, as the roof then began to cave in.’
      • ‘Now a corner, now a brick, the structure is caving in upon itself.’
      • ‘The road has caved into the drains at several points.’
      • ‘Mr Grove's housemate said he heard glass smashing and saw flames leaping up the stairs of the house before the ceiling caved in.’
      • ‘Her bathroom ceiling caved in last week after she had waited more than a month for repairs.’
      • ‘A fire broke out after the tunnel caved in on Sunday, and a number of survivors fled to safety on foot.’
      • ‘As many as 30 miners were trapped underground on Tuesday after a tunnel caved in at the mine.’
      • ‘A five-storey building under construction caved in on Saturday at the seaside town of Canacona, trapping workers on the site.’
      collapse, fall in, give, give way, crumble, crumple, disintegrate, subside, fall down, sag, slump
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1cave something in, cave in somethingCause something to collapse.
        ‘storms caved the roof in’
        • ‘the car smashed into the front door and almost caved in the porch’
    • 2Capitulate or submit under pressure.

      ‘eventually, Danny caved in and let him stay’
      • ‘the manager caved in to his demands’
      • ‘So instead, the government caved in to their pressure.’
      • ‘Ministers have caved in to pressure from the farming industry over one of the most controversial proposals to prevent a repeat of last year's epidemic.’
      • ‘She said the bus driver should never have let them get on if there was not enough room, and had caved in to pressure from other passengers.’
      • ‘Already the Danish government, which had announced plans to scale down ferry operations when the bridge opened, has caved in to public pressure to maintain the service.’
      • ‘Numerous stations immediately caved in to the pressure.’
      • ‘Other times he caved in to pressure, either from industry or pro-censorship forces.’
      • ‘She won't cave in to his demands that she admit the marriage was fraudulent.’
      • ‘Critics have also slammed the government for caving in to the demands of the mining industry and leaving loopholes "large enough for mining trucks to drive through".’
      • ‘A number of the country's biggest publishers say the strategy amounts to blackmail and are refusing to cave in.’
      • ‘My parents finally caved in and got me a landline phone in my room for my 14th birthday.’
      • ‘After rolling my eyes many many times this week, I eventually caved in.’
      • ‘The top players will continue to demand more money and eventually the league will cave in to the pressure from the big clubs.’


Middle English from Old French, from Latin cava, from cavus ‘hollow’ (compare with cavern). The usage cave in may be from the synonymous dialect expression calve in, influenced by obsolete cave ‘excavate, hollow out’.

Main meanings of cave in English

: cave1cave2


Pronunciation /ˈkeɪvi/

Translate cave into Spanish


informal, dated British
  • (among children) look out!


    keep cave
    British informal, dated
    • Act as lookout.

      • ‘While Lloyd George was ‘robbing the hen roosts’, Churchill kept cave for him.’
      • ‘We were in a ground floor ward, and at visiting time I kept cave outside the toilet whilst Jo went into the loo, stood on the toilet seat and opened the window.’
      • ‘I was the one who had the brains so I kept cave and I used to charge 'em all two apples so I never went to get the apples myself.’


Latin, imperative of cavere ‘beware’.