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See also: Claw



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English clawe, from Old English clawu, from Proto-Germanic *klawō. Compare West Frisian klau, Dutch klauw, German Klaue, Danish klo, Norwegian klo, and Swedish klo.


claw (plural claws)

  1. A curved, pointed horny nail on each digit of the foot of a mammal, reptile, or bird.
  2. A foot equipped with such.
  3. The pincer (chela) of a crustacean or other arthropod.
  4. A mechanical device resembling a claw, used for gripping or lifting.
  5. (botany) A slender appendage or process, formed like a claw, such as the base of petals of the pink.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Gray to this entry?)
  6. (juggling) The act of catching a ball overhand.
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
Further reading[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English clawen, from Old English clawan, clāwan, *clēn, clawian, from Proto-Germanic *klawjaną.


claw (third-person singular simple present claws, present participle clawing, simple past and past participle clawed)

  1. To scratch or to tear at.
    • 2012, John Branch, “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek”, in New York Times[1]:
      Using her hands like windshield wipers, she tried to flick snow away from her mouth. When she clawed at her chest and neck, the crumbs maddeningly slid back onto her face. She grew claustrophobic.
  2. To use the claws to seize, to grip.
  3. To use the claws to climb.
  4. (juggling) To perform a claw catch.
  5. To move with one's fingertips.
    • 2011 October 15, Phil McNulty, “Liverpool 1 - 1 Man Utd”, in BBC Sport[2]:
      De Gea was United's hero again within seconds of Hernandez's equaliser, diving to his left to claw away Dirk Kuyt's shot as he got on the end of a superb cross from Stewart Downing.
  6. (obsolete) To relieve uneasy feeling, such as an itch, by scratching; hence, to humor or flatter, to court someone.
    • 1599, Much Ado About Nothing, by William Shakespeare, Act 1 Scene 3
      I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad when I have cause, and smile at no man's jests; eat when I have stomach, and wait for no man's leisure; sleep when I am drowsy, and tend on no man's business; laugh when I am merry, and claw no man in his humour.
    • 1603, Philemon Holland (translator), The Philosophie, commonly called, the Morals (originally by Plutarch)
      Rich men they claw, sooth up and flatter: the poore they contemne and despise
  7. (obsolete) To rail at; to scold.
    • 1655, Thomas Fuller, James Nichols, editor, The Church History of Britain, [], volume (please specify |volume=I to III), new edition, London: [] [James Nichols] for Thomas Tegg and Son, [], published 1837, OCLC 913056315:
      In the aforesaid preamble, the king fairly claweth the great monasteries, wherein, saith he, religion, thanks be to God, is right well kept and observed; though he claweth them soon after in another acceptation.
  8. (figuratively, transitive, dated) To flatter; to fawn on (a person).

Derived terms[edit]


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of clawe