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See also: Pew and PEW




Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English pewe, borrowed from Middle French puie (balustrade), from Latin podia, plural of podium (parapet, podium), from Ancient Greek πόδιον (pódion, little foot), from πούς (poús, foot). Doublet of podium.


pew (plural pews)

  1. One of the long benches in a church, seating several persons, usually fixed to the floor and facing the chancel.
    In many churches some pews are reserved for either clerical or liturgical officials such as canons, or for prominent families.
  2. An enclosed compartment in a church which provides seating for a group of people, often a prominent family.
    • 2006 September 11, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Bush Mourns 9/11 at Ground Zero as N.Y. Remembers", The New York Times [1]
      At St. Patrick’s Cathedral, firefighters in dress blues and white gloves escorted families to the pews for a memorial service, led by Mr. Bloomberg, to honor the 343 Fire Department employees killed on 9/11.
  3. Any structure shaped like a church pew, such as a stall, formerly used by money lenders, etc.; a box in a theatre; or a pen or sheepfold.
    • 1689 February 25 (date written; Gregorian calendar), Samuel Pepys; Mynors Bright, transcriber, “February 15th, 1688–1689”, in Henry B[enjamin] Wheatley, editor, The Diary of Samuel Pepys [], volume (please specify |volume=I to X), London: George Bell & Sons []; Cambridge: Deighton Bell & Co., published 1893–1899, OCLC 1016700617:
      my wife and I [] did get into the play, the only one we have seen this winter: it was “The Five Hours’ Adventure:” but I sat so far I could not hear well, nor was there any pretty woman that I did see, but my wife, who sat in my Lady Fox’s pew with her.
    • 1659, John Milton, Considerations Touching the Likeliest Means to Remove Hirelings Out of the Church, London: L. Chapman,[2]
      the sheep in their pews
  4. (colloquial, humorous) A chair; a seat.
    Pull up a pew.
    • 1956, Anthony Burgess, Time for a Tiger (The Malayan Trilogy), published 1972, page 38:
      Victor Crabbe's headmaster was a little man called Boothby [...] who subscribed to a popular book club and had many long-playing records, who invited people to curry tiffin and said, "Take a pew."
Derived terms[edit]


pew (third-person singular simple present pews, present participle pewing, simple past and past participle pewed)

  1. To furnish with pews.
    • 1834, The British Magazine and Monthly Register of Religious and Ecclesiastical Information [] :
      building a gallery and altering the pewing in the church at Catherington
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Possibly from French putois (skunk) or puer (to stink) or a clipping of putrid.

Alternative forms[edit]



  1. An expression of disgust in response to an unpleasant odor.

Etymology 3[edit]




  1. Representative of the sound made by the firing of a gun.


  • Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, Springfield, Massachusetts, G.&C. Merriam Co., 1967