\ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This has not stopped the area from long being used as a dog park for canines that enjoy getting their paws wet. Hillary Davis, Daily Pilot, "Dogs, downward: N.B. animal-control officers writing fewer tickets at unofficial ‘dog beach’ so far this year," 12 Sep. 2019 Love them for their small paws and big ears, or loathe them for their habit of wreaking havoc on gardens, the number of rabbits in the Seattle area has grown in the past few years. Paige Cornwell, The Seattle Times, "Notice a bunny boom? Here are some reasons for the Seattle area’s recent rise in rabbits," 19 July 2019 Like the raptor, the logo had attitude, but there was also something playful of a bear holding a basketball in its oversized paw. Matt Giles, Longreads, "How the Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies Revived the NBA," 8 June 2019 The burns on Zee’s paws, chest and belly made Gonzalez think the dog had escaped over the balcony railing. Cathy M. Rosenthal,, "San Antonio man finds dog he thought was lost to fire," 13 Sep. 2019 Tap your feet or paws to live music and satisfy your hunger cravings at food and beverage vendors. Alison Stanton, azcentral, "The best fall festivals around Phoenix in 2019: Oktoberfest, Day of the Dead, art and more," 12 Sep. 2019 Trim the length of the sleeves as needed so your dog’s paws will poke through. Woman's Day Staff, Woman's Day, "Repurposed Stuffed Animal Costume," 9 Sep. 2019 Bell painstakingly ascertained the layout of Kashyapa’s fantastical city as well as detailed the magnificent carving of the lion’s paws at the entrance, which Forbes had not been able to see. National Geographic, "The 'Lion Fortress' of Sri Lanka was swallowed by the jungle," 3 Sep. 2019 Pet owners have been warned their furry friends' paws suffer on hot sidewalks. Felicia Fonseca,, "People across Southwest long for seasonal rainstorms," 30 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb No more pawing through the spice cabinet in search of the AWOL coriander. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "A Designer Trick for Maxing Out Kitchen Cabinet Storage," 11 Sep. 2019 Brown, with six delicate legs, like threads, really, the bug had feelers coming out of its head, pawing the air. David Rabe, The New Yorker, "Uncle Jim Called," 1 July 2019 The black bear stood on its hind legs, sniffing around and pawing through the fridge of the family’s cabin in Truckee, California, about 12:30 a.m. Saturday. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "A bear broke into a Lake Tahoe area house and raided the fridge as terrified teens hid in the next room," 21 Aug. 2019 The black bear stood on its hind legs, sniffing around and pawing through the fridge of the family's cabin in Truckee, California, about 12:30 a.m. Saturday. Christina Zdanowicz, CNN, "A bear broke into a house and raided the fridge as terrified teens hid in the next room," 20 Aug. 2019 Up close, retirement-eligible shoppers elbow one another while pawing through the heap of vegetables, searching for some magical mystery cucumber. Jamie Feldmar, Los Angeles Times, "Super King is L.A.’s most beloved international supermarket — and the customers are fiercely loyal," 14 Aug. 2019 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

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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Statistics for paw

Last Updated

6 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for paw

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

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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.

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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

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