From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Chew



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English chewen, from Old English ċēowan, from Proto-West Germanic *keuwan, from Proto-Germanic *kewwaną, from Proto-Indo-European *ǵyewh₁-. Cognate with West Frisian kôgje, Low German käwwen, Dutch kauwen, German kauen; also Latin gingīva (gums), Tocharian B śuwaṃ (to eat), Polish żuć (to chew), Persian جویدن (javidan), Pashto ژول (žovạl, to bite, gnaw).


chew (third-person singular simple present chews, present participle chewing, simple past chewed, past participle chewed or (rare) chewn)

  1. To crush with the teeth by repeated closing and opening of the jaws; done to food to soften it and break it down by the action of saliva before it is swallowed.
    Make sure to chew thoroughly, and don't talk with your mouth full!
    The steak was tough to chew as it had been cooked too long.
    • 1578, Henry Lyte, A niewe Herball:
      The same chewn upon maketh one to avoid much phlegm.
    • 1971-79, Journal of Glenn T. Seaborg
      And gruesome they areː We find cattle still alive with hindquarters chewn off, still alive with their eyes chewn out, their ears chewn off, their noses and faces chewn till they look like (a) Hamburger, their tails hanging in shreds. Or, we find them after a slow and cruel death. Can you understand why cattlemen will shoot YOUR dog if he is seen wandering on ranchland?
    • 1976, Denis Diderot, translated by Leonard Tancock, Rameau's Nephew / D'alembert's Dream[1]:
      But meanwhile Mademoiselle's book had at least been found under an arm-chair where it had been dragged, chewn up and torn to pieces by a young pug-dog or by a kitten.
    • 2001, Keith Douglass, Seal Team Seven 14: Death Blow[2]:
      He wore two sweaters, both moth chewn and filthy but warm.
    • 2010, Tony Reynolds, The Lost Stories of Sherlock Holmes[3]:
      His left cheek seemed to have been cut and chewn awayǃ
  2. To grind, tear, or otherwise degrade or demolish something with teeth or as with teeth.
    He keeps his feed in steel drums to prevent the mice from chewing holes in the feed-sacks.
    The harsh desert wind and sand had chewed the stump into ragged strips of wood.
  3. (informal) To think about something; to ponder; to chew over.
    The professor stood at the blackboard, chalk in hand, and chewed the question the student had asked.
    • 1734, Alexander Pope, Epistle to Cobham:
      Old politicians chew on wisdom past.
    • 1711, Matthew Prior, to Mr. Harley, wounded by Guiscard:
      He chews revenge, abjuring his offense.
Derived terms[edit]
Terms derived from chew (verb)
  • Pennsylvania German: tschaae

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English chew, cheu, icheu, from Old English *ċēaw, *ġeċēaw (chewing), from Proto-West Germanic *kauw, *gakauw (chewing), from Proto-Germanic *kewwaną (to chew). Cognate with obsolete Dutch kauw (chewing), Dutch gekauw (chewing), West Frisian gekau (chewing).


chew (countable and uncountable, plural chews)

  1. The act of chewing; mastication with the mouth.
    I popped the gum into my mouth and gave it a chew.
  2. Level of chewiness.
    • 1996, Adele Puhn, The 5-Day Miracle Diet Companion, →ISBN:
      Once it's cooked, it's not enough of a hard chew to count.
    • 2014, Christian F. Puglisi, Relae: A Book of Ideas, →ISBN, page 140:
      A bread with a strong and solidified gluten network has a nice chew to it, and many types of charcuterie call for just enough work by the teeth to be dangerously addictive. But in all cases, chewy must be combined with an appropriate amount of ...
    • 2015, Jim "Sunny" Edwards, A Footprint in the Sand: The Fishing Edge, Fulton Books, Inc., →ISBN:
      No matter what I did to the squid, it was a tough chew. I got out my magnifying glass. Still, there was nothing that I could see to make the squid curl when cooked. I decided to tenderize the squid with my rubber hammer.
    • 2015, Aki Kamozawa, H. Alexander Talbot, Gluten-Free Flour Power: Bringing Your Favorite Foods Back to the Table, W. W. Norton & Company, →ISBN:
      To serve, cook the malloredus in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, but with a nice chew to them. Fold into a warm sauce or ragout and serve immediately.
    • 2016, Heather Christo, Pure Delicious, Penguin, →ISBN, page 178:
      While these are a little complicated to make, the result is a thick, toothsome bun that has a nice chew to it but is still soft.
  3. A small sweet, such as a taffy, that is eaten by chewing.
    Phillip purchased a bag of licorice chews at the drugstore.
  4. (informal, uncountable) Chewing tobacco.
    The school had banned chew and smokes from the school grounds, even for adults.
  5. (countable) A plug or wad of chewing tobacco; chaw or a chaw.
    The ballplayers sat on the bench watching the rain, glumly working their chews.
    The first time he chewed tobacco, he swallowed his chew and got extremely sick.
  6. (uncountable, informal) The condition of something being torn or ground up mechanically.
    • 1995, Keyboard, volume 21, numbers 7-12, page 138:
      Avoiding Tape Chew. In the early days of the ADAT, the "V" blocks (two arms that thread the tape around the front of the head) could sometimes get out of alignment and "chew" the outside track []
Derived terms[edit]
Terms derived from chew (noun)

See also[edit]