\ ˈpȯ How to pronounce paw (audio) \

Definition of paw

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the foot of a quadruped (such as a lion or dog) that has claws broadly : the foot of an animal
2 : a human hand especially when large or clumsy


pawed; pawing; paws

Definition of paw (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to touch or strike at with a paw
2 : to feel or touch clumsily, rudely, or sexually
3 : to scrape or beat with or as if with a hoof
4 : to flail at or grab for wildly

intransitive verb

1 : to beat or scrape something with or as if with a hoof
2 : to touch or strike with a paw
3 : to feel or touch someone or something clumsily, rudely, or sexually
4 : to flail or grab wildly
5 : to search especially carelessly or roughly pawed through the box of discount items

Examples of paw in a Sentence

Noun The dog injured his paw. Verb The bull was pawing the dirt. The celebrity couple was pawed by a mob of adoring fans. She claims that her boss got drunk and tried to paw her at the company Christmas party. A crowd of customers was pawing over the remaining sales items. She pawed through her purse to find her cell phone.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The discovery the next morning of Tamla's body face-down in the backyard, in her paw-print pajamas, has left her family grasping for answers — and believing their questions remain unresolved, in part, because of Tamla's race. Jeff Truesdell,, "Was It Murder? Death of Beloved Mom at Party Was Ruled Accidental Fall — But Family Is Suspicious," 24 Nov. 2020 The hanging chimes include a paw print pendant and poem that honors the life led by a canine companion. Jonathan Bender, NBC News, "Memorial pet gifts 2020: Pet remembrance and sympathy gifts," 14 Dec. 2020 But there was a third set too, pressed atop ours, dirt still in the tracks: four-pronged paw prints the size of coffee saucers. Susan Casey, Field & Stream, "F&S Classics: An Improbable Elk Hunt," 6 Dec. 2020 When a veteran is depressed or having a panic attack or nightmare or suffering from PTSD, sometimes the antidote can be as simple as a dog's paw on their hand or a lick to their face. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin nonprofit trains dogs as life buddies for veterans," 11 Nov. 2020 Champ, on the other paw, has been with the Bidens a lot longer. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Joe Biden's Dogs Major and Champ Will Be the First Presidential Pups in the White House in Four Years," 16 Nov. 2020 Before the coronavirus pandemic, 30 dog teams (canine plus handler) would visit the kids’ rooms for a cuddle or paw shake, and two miniature horses would sometimes hang out in the main atrium or TV studio. Andrea Sachs, Washington Post, "Doctors, nurses . . . dogs? A hospital’s furry workers help kids feel better.," 14 Sep. 2020 The outdoor dog park will offer a paw-friendly artificial turf surface for dogs to play on with sanitized outdoor seating for owners. Kathy Flanigan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Fromm Petfest is a go this year but with a new location and four Saturdays to celebrate your pup," 12 Sep. 2020 Nearly nine out of 10 dog owners in Chicago are likely to get their canine charge professionally groomed, while nearly half will go so far as to order up paw pedicures and massages. Darcel Rockett,, "From walking buddies to next-door neighbors, these Chicagoans are moving for the sake of Olive and Lou’s puppy love," 27 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb When selecting corn Phillips has some timely advice for those who like to paw through piles of corn trying to find the perfect ear: Stop it. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Want the best Michigan sweet corn you've ever had? You'll need a cooler.," 7 Aug. 2020 Too many doorknobs to paw at and elevator buttons to elbow. David Ferry,, "Everything you need to know about camping in California this summer," 25 June 2020 The 600-pound animal responded by pawing Horn’s arm. Dennis Mclellan, Los Angeles Times, "Roy Horn, dark-haired half of flamboyant illusionists Siegfried & Roy, dies of complications related to coronavirus," 8 May 2020 Bored rich people wandered the aisles of Anthropologie and Crate & Barrel, pawing at the wares, some with no masks or hand sanitizer in sight. Libby Watson, The New Republic, "The Deranged Civic Religion of the Lockdown Protesters," 18 May 2020 Dove right to stop Iniesta’s shot from the top of the area, pushing it right, then scrambled up to paw away Aspas’s follow shot with his left hand. Andrew Das, New York Times, "That Roar You Heard Was From Russia. Its Team Sent Spain Packing.," 3 July 2018 Seconds into their swaying, Juan Pablo starts pawing at Clare’s face as a means of flirtation, rubbing his hands over the tops of her eyebrows and — again — repeatedly tracing the bottom of her face with his thumbs. Ariana Romero,, "We’ll Never Be Able To Watch The Bachelor The Same Again After Quarantine," 9 Apr. 2020 In a video shared on Koch's Twitter, her dog can be seen pawing at the door with her tail wagging at full speed as Koch and her husband approach. Meredith Spelbring, Detroit Free Press, "Dog can't control excitement when astronaut owner returns home from year in space," 14 Feb. 2020 Half a dozen excavators roared and pawed at the rust-red ground. The Economist, "Chaguan China’s rulers see every crisis as a chance to tighten their grip," 8 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paw.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of paw


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for paw


Middle English, from Anglo-French powe, poe

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about paw

Time Traveler for paw

Time Traveler

The first known use of paw was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for paw

Last Updated

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Paw.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for paw


How to pronounce paw (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of paw

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the foot of an animal that has claws
informal + disapproving : a person's hand



English Language Learners Definition of paw (Entry 2 of 2)

of an animal : to touch or hit (someone or something) with a paw or foot
: to touch (someone or something) in a rough or sexual way
: to search by using your hands in an awkward or careless way


\ ˈpȯ How to pronounce paw (audio) \

Kids Definition of paw

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the foot of a four-footed animal (as a lion, dog, or cat) that has claws


pawed; pawing

Kids Definition of paw (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to touch or hit with a paw My dog pawed the door.
2 : to beat or scrape with a hoof The nervous horse pawed the ground.
3 : to touch or handle in a clumsy or rude way She pawed the family photos.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on paw

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for paw

Nglish: Translation of paw for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of paw for Arabic Speakers

Comments on paw

What made you want to look up paw? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!