\ 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 To clean floors Between shedding hair and muddy paw prints, your floors take a beating from pets coming in and out of your place. Brigitt Earley, Good Housekeeping, "5 Hassle-Free Ways to Clean Up After Pets—No Vacuum Required," 1 May 2020 Inside the house, Ms. Berman was lying dead, shot in the back of the head, her terriers’ paw prints tracked through the pool of blood. Charles V. Bagli, New York Times, "After Decades of Suspicion, Robert Durst Faces Justice," 3 Mar. 2020 Kyra Scarlet loved to let her Australian Kelpie, Iris, chase birds along the shore and watch her paw prints wash away with the tide. Anna Bauman,, "Family of woman killed in Fort Funston landslide hopes to meet rescuers on anniversary," 19 Feb. 2020 Hoofprints also dot the rock nearby, and a couple of large canine paw prints also pass close to the human tracks. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Neanderthals’ relatives climbed an erupting volcano 350,000 years ago," 5 Feb. 2020 Just four paws skidding across the wooden floor and learning how to wag her tail. Kevin Fisher-paulson,, "Fisher-Paulson: As Mother’s Day approaches, a new puppy brings a reason to celebrate," 5 May 2020 These include being held in head-up, head-down, and supine (on the back) positions; cotton-swab stimulation on the paws; and being laid on a cold washcloth. Popular Science, "‘Super puppies’ keep calm and carry on in the most stressful situations," 17 Apr. 2020 These include being held in head-up, head-down, and supine (on the back) positions; cotton-swab stimulation on the paws; and being laid on a cold washcloth. Brad Fitzpatrick, Outdoor Life, "Dog Trainers are Creating ‘Super Puppies’ by Following a Program Developed by the Military," 8 Apr. 2020 Sit pretty in a begging position, paws up, hold it, hold it. Jan Hoffman, New York Times, "At the Westminster Dog Show: Top Dogs, Top Docs," 11 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 In a clip that quickly began to go viral after it was shared by Twitter user Theo Shantonas on Monday, a small French bulldog-like dog can be seen pawing at a dormant water jet at what looks like a city splash pad. Time, "Dog Gleefully Playing in a Water Jet Is the True Spirit of the Internet," 10 Mar. 2020 The video shows Mike gently pawing at the mug, accentuating the textured look with his tiny paws all while his owner looks on in amazement. Nathalie Kirby, House Beautiful, "This Pottery Studio Shared a Video of a Cat Making Pottery and I Can't Stop Watching," 10 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.

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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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Time Traveler for paw

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for paw

Last Updated

4 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Paw.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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