Origin: OE. Shelfe, schelfe, AS. Scylfe; akin to G. Schelfe, Icel. Skjalf. In senses 2 & 3, perhaps a different word (cf. Shelve,).
1. A flat tablet or ledge of any material set horizontally at a distance from the floor, to hold objects of use or ornament.
2. A sand bank in the sea, or a rock, or ledge of rocks, rendering the water shallow, and dangerous to ships. On the tawny sands and shelves. (milton) On the secret shelves with fury cast. (Dryden)
3. (Science: chemical) A stratum lying in a very even manner; a flat, projecting layer of rock.
4. A piece of timber running the whole length of a vessel inside the timberheads. To lay on the shelf, to lay aside as unnecessary or useless; to dismiss; to discard.