Same with cleave. Cleave is an awesome word – it can mean "to separate" or it can mean "to bind together". Cleave means to split OR adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly – two meanings which are exactly opposite. So, first you have to decide which meaning you are talking about. If you mean "cleave" like "His axe cleaved the wood in two pieces", the antonym would be “bind” or “attach” or something similar in meaning. If by cleave you mean “Do you swear to cleave to this man for the rest of your life?” it means stick with, to be together – and the antonym is "separate" or "split". Technically, “cleave” can be the antonym of “cleave”. Fun, isn’t it?
The common use of “cleave” is “to cut” – to split with a sharp instrument, or with something resembling one, like the sharp side of your palm. In chemistry, you cleave or divide a complex molecule into simpler molecules.
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