to split something -- especially with violent force
to cut through something
The battle axe was a weapon used to cleave skulls or decapitate.
He scrambled back as the giant’s spear cleaved the ground between his feet.
Rick Riordan -- The Lost Hero
He stabbed his black blade into the floor, and it cleaved through the stone like butter.
Rick Riordan -- The Battle of the Labyrinth
The keen edge cleaved through the tough skin.
Wilson Rawls -- Where the Red Fern Grows
Anion was playing a dangerous game of tag, charging around the giant while Alyconeus swiped at them with his staff, knocking over walls and cleaving massive chasms in the ice.
Rick Riordan -- The Son of Neptune
Precious Auntie did not see the kick that killed Baby Uncle, but she heard it, a terrible crack, like the opening of the earth when it was born. For the rest of her life she was to hear it in the breaking of twigs, the crackling of fire, whenever a melon was cleaved in the summer.
Amy Tan -- The Bonesetter’s Daughter
May it soon cleave goblins once again!
J.R.R. Tolkien -- The Hobbit
This here Sethe talked about love like any other woman; talked about baby clothes like any other woman, but what she meant could cleave the bone.
Toni Morrison -- Beloved
I sat up in bed, and my shadow fell across the body, seeming to cleave it in half between the hips and the shoulders, leaving only a black space.
Ken Kesey -- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Since Gandalf’s head is now sacred, let us find one that it is right to cleave!
J.R.R. Tolkien -- The Two Towers
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What broke when he could bring himself to thrust down the knife into the warm flesh, to bring down the axe on the living head, to cleave down between the seeing eyes, to shoot the gun that would drive death into the beating heart?
Alan Paton -- Cry, the Beloved Country
the goblin was hard on his haunches; and (unskilful rider that he was!) he had much ado to maintain his seat; sometimes slipping on one side, sometimes on another, and sometimes jolted on the high ridge of his horse’s backbone, with a violence that he verily feared would cleave him asunder.
Washington Irving -- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
I held my bloodied hands out to touch them and felt the cloven hooves of hairy animals.
Rudolfo Anaya -- Bless Me, Ultima
There were cloven hooves.
Rick Riordan -- The Lightning Thief
The flesh cloven along the bones, the ligaments dried to tug and taut as wires.
Cormac McCarthy -- The Road
When Caspian awoke next morning he could hardly believe that it had not all been a dream; but the grass was covered with little cloven hoof-marks.
C.S. Lewis -- Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia
The water is going to cleave a channel into the rock