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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English jawe, jowe, geowe, alteration of *chawe (in early Modern English chawe, chaw), from Proto-Germanic *kawǭ (compare Middle Dutch kauwe ‎(fish jaw), kouwe ‎(mouth cavity), dialectal German Käu, Keu ‎(jaw, donkey jowl)), gradation-variant of *kewǭ (compare Old English ċīan (pl.) ‘gills’, West Frisian kiuw ‎(gill), Dutch kieuw ‎(gill)), noun from Proto-Germanic *kewwaną (compare English chew). More at chew. Alteration probably influenced by Middle English jolle, chaul ‎(jowl), which it replaced (see jowl).



jaw ‎(plural jaws)

  1. One of the bones, usually bearing teeth, which form the framework of the mouth.
  2. The part of the face below the mouth.
    His jaw dropped in amazement.
  3. (figuratively) Anything resembling the jaw of an animal in form or action; especially plural, the mouth or way of entrance.
    the jaws of a pass; the jaws of darkness; the jaws of death.
  4. A notch or opening.
  5. A notched or forked part, adapted for holding an object in place.
    the jaw of a railway-car pedestal.
  6. One of a pair of opposing parts which are movable towards or from each other, for grasping or crushing anything between them.
    the jaws of a vise; the jaws of a stone-crushing machine.
  7. (nautical) The inner end of a boom or gaff, hollowed in a half circle so as to move freely on a mast.
  8. (slang, dated) Impudent or abusive talk.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of H. Kingsley to this entry?)
  9. (slang) Axle guard.
  10. (snooker) The curved part of the cushion marking the entry to the pocket.
Derived terms[edit]
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See also[edit]


jaw ‎(third-person singular simple present jaws, present participle jawing, simple past and past participle jawed)

  1. (transitive) To assail or abuse by scolding.
  2. (intransitive) To scold; to clamor.
  3. (intransitive, informal) To talk; to converse.
  4. (snooker, transitive, intransitive) (of a ball) To stick in the jaws of a pocket.

Etymology 2[edit]

Uncertain, see Jew's harp for more.



  1. (used in certain set phrases like jaw harp, jaw harpist and jaw's-trump)