\ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Weather conditions can cause paws to become dry, bleed or even crack. Nicole Forsyth, The Mercury News, "Dollars and Pets: Paw, nose and ear protection," 5 Sep. 2019 With the King and Queen set to pop in for a visit, Downton will truly be a full and joyful home ready to welcome them with open arms…and extended paws. Rosy Cordero,, "Downton Abbey celebrates International Dog Day with adorable new posters," 26 Aug. 2019 Shanti kept trying to put her front paw in Brooks’ hand and seemed confused when the woman didn’t respond. Peggy O’hare,, "DPS, sons still looking for who dumped the gravel that led to I-37 crash, death of San Antonio mother," 5 Aug. 2019 Janelle Monáe, as the Pekingese Peg, steps into the formidable paws of the original voice actor, Peggy Lee. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "Cuteness alert! Disney gives fans 'Lady and the Tramp' live-action first look," 10 Apr. 2019 The answer might lie in a new paper on the formation of digits in the paws of mouse embryos. Jennifer Ouellette, Quanta Magazine, "Biologists Home In on Turing Patterns," 25 Mar. 2013 It’s time for the official bear of fire prevention to move beyond being a figurehead and get his paws dirty. Sarah Berns, Outside Online, "Why Smokey Bear Desperately Needs a Makeover," 24 Aug. 2019 The cat was taken to a veterinarian and treated for dehydration and second-degree burns on its paws, Brennan said. Alyssa Lukpat,, "Firefighters rescue contractor stuck in tree trying to save homeowner’s cat," 20 Aug. 2019 In 2017, a bear to the southwest in Vail opened a kitchen window, wandered around the house and stomped its paws on a piano., "A bear broke in. Colorado Police responded. Then it punched through a wall ‘like the Kool-Aid Man.’," 12 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Bosa also likened Brissett’s ability to throw with defenders pawing at him to that of Ben Roethlisberger. Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times, "Chargers vs. Colts: How the teams match up," 8 Sep. 2019 Now Tyler is back in the kitten room at the ACS, among other young felines who paw and meow when prospective adopters walk in. Vincent T. Davis,, "San Antonio animal rescues seeking homes for special needs pets," 1 July 2019 All the lines to and from the world, all the hungry beings clawing and sucking and pawing at it, everything cut off. David Canfield,, "Ready for more Slayer? Get a first look at Kiersten White's next Buffy-based novel," 17 July 2019 In the clip, which seems to have been taken from a security camera facing Stinziano’s backyard, the bear looks curious, stepping onto a bench and pawing at a bird feeder. Ashley Boucher,, "Fearless Dog Chases Off Huge Black Bear Prowling Around New Jersey Man's Backyard," 12 July 2019 Nineteen canine competitors flocked to California’s Sonoma County last Friday, all pawing for the coveted title of World’s Ugliest Dog. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Meet Scamp the Tramp, the World’s Ugliest Dog," 25 June 2019 As Cherry discussed her journey, Apollo anxiously stood in the barn, cross tied, pawing at the ground and impatiently nudging Cherry. Grace Hollars, Indianapolis Star, "'It affects all of us': Why this abuse survivor is riding her horse through 48 states," 24 June 2019 Veterinarians report symptoms of peppermint oil poisoning in cats include difficulty breathing, trouble walking, excessive drooling, lethargy, muscle tremors, pawing at the mouth, redness or burns in and around the mouth, and vomiting. Joan Morris, The Mercury News, "Seemingly benign skunk deterrent can be dangerous for cats," 14 June 2019 When dogs were first domesticated, individuals that could readily respond to humans—both their direct commands and their indirect body language—had a leg (or paw) up over their more wary and socially challenged counterparts. Carrie Arnold, National Geographic, "If you’re chronically stressed, your dog could be too," 6 June 2019

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.

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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

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Learn More about paw

Dictionary Entries near paw





paw foot



Statistics for paw

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for paw

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

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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.

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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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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