\ 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


The dog injured his paw.


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

Police say the dog, a one-year-old cavachon, had wet paws that smelled like urine and the cage was not big enough. Pioneer Press,, "Vernon Hills police: Woman charged with animal cruelty after dog found in hot garage," 1 July 2018 The bear was taken to the California Fish and Wildlife's lab in Rancho Cordova, where video shows sterilized tilapia skins were placed on its injured paws. Fox News, "Bear cub burned in California wildfire gets 'fish-skin'," 10 Aug. 2018 Sanchez, the Conred spokesman, said many dogs and cats had been rescued with burns on their paws from the mud and ash, some blinded from the volcanic gases. Washington Post, "‘Nobody is left’: Guatemala volcano ravaged entire families," 5 June 2018 At the top of the gravel lane to the house, Jake would lose his mind, throwing his 60 or so pounds manically around the car until Barb opened a door to avoid being gouged by the nails on his churning paws. Lauren Ritchie,, "Callous driver hits beloved dog, leaves him like trash by the roadside," 1 June 2018 Hiking with your dog is a paw-some way to bond and get some fresh air together. Arricca Sansone, Country Living, "Everything You Need to Know About Hiking With Your Dog," 12 Feb. 2019 But in recent years, it has also been used as an (ineffective) cancer cure or as a general tonic — a draft of rice wine mixed with bear bile, or steeped in a bear’s paw, might stave off a hangover, some say. Simon Denyer, Washington Post, "China’s bear bile industry persists despite growing awareness of the cruelty involved," 3 June 2018 One of my kids had spotted him at a shelter, saw that black dot on his mostly white face, those white paws on his mostly black legs, that pink nose the color of carnations, and that was that. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: My cat thinks he's a dog but he's actually a lifesaver," 29 Apr. 2018 Look at that nose, look at those eyes, look at those paws. Jonathan Lai,, "How to keep innocent people out of prison: Limit mistaken IDs," 5 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Fitness Mallory Pugh paws a soccer ball like a panther does its prey. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "U.S. Soccer's Mallory Pugh on Age, Confidence, and Staying in the Game," 15 Mar. 2019 All that careful counting and pawing through the register for change is slow. Town & Country, "Is This the End of Cash?," 28 Jan. 2019 Unfortunately, the controller immediately caught the attention of my cat, who started pawing at it in delight. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "The Pokémon: Let’s Go Poké Ball controller is psyching out dogs," 20 Nov. 2018 In one image, the cougar is seen pawing at the front door. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Mountain lions captured lurking in front of California homes amid recent wildfires," 31 July 2018 England’s goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, had set the stage by pawing away Carlos Bacca’s fifth attempt for Colombia with a dive to his right. Andrew Das, New York Times, "England Shakes Its Shootout Curse and Saves Its World Cup," 5 July 2018 Manuel Uribe missed by smashing his effort against the crossbar to level things up, then Pickford dived to keep out Carlos Bacca, pawing the ball away with his trailing left hand. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "22 years later, the weight of the world is off England's shoulders," 3 July 2018 For pet dogs and cats, owners should look for any signs of breathing trouble, coughing or pawing at the eyes and nose, veterinarians said. Paige Cornwell, The Seattle Times, "Until Seattle smoke subsides, play fetch with Fido inside, veterinarians say," 20 Aug. 2018 One pooch starts licking Louie's toe while the other licks his hand, pawing clumsily at the tot. Christina Oehler, Woman's Day, "This Video of Two Pugs Kissing a Baby Is So Stinking Adorable, You'll Forget All Your Troubles," 31 July 2015

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

Dictionary Entries near paw





paw foot



Statistics for paw

Last Updated

22 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for paw

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for paw



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with paw

Spanish Central: Translation of 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).


to mark by some ceremony or observation

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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