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Middle English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


Inherited from Old English ċēowan, from Proto-Germanic *kewwaną.


  • IPA(key): /ˈtʃiu̯ən/
  • (dialectal) IPA(key): /ˈtʃɔu̯ən/



  1. To chew; to mash food with one's teeth (especially of cud).
  2. To consume or digest food or comestibles; to feast upon.
    • a. 1382, John Wycliffe, “Osee 7:14”, in Wycliffe's Bible:
      And thei crieden not to me in her herte, but ȝelliden in her beddis. Thei chewiden code on wheete, and wyn, and thei ȝeden awei fro me.
      And they didn't cry to me from their hearts; instead they whined in their beds. They chewed wheat and wine like cud, then they ran away from me.
  3. To ponder about; to think or reflect upon something.
  4. (rare) To grip or hold onto something with one's teeth.
  5. (rare) To destroy or injure; to harass or annoy.

Usage notes[edit]

It is entirely possible that this verb could have remained as a strong verb for some speakers, with a past singular *chew ( /ˈtʃɛu̯/) and a past participle *chowen. In Early Modern English, a past participle chewen appears; this could represent a continuation of *chowen or an innovation.


Related terms[edit]