What does it mean to be stove up? This phrase for sore or stiff has nothing to do with a stovetop; stove is actually the past tense of stave. To stave in a wooden boat is to smash a hole in its side, and thus, to be stove up is to be incapacitated or damaged. These words are related to the noun stave, the term for one of those flat pieces of wood in a barrel. Similarly, to stave off hunger is to metaphorically beat it back, as if with a stick. This is part of a complete episode.