\ 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 Andy said, noting a stream of paw prints — each as large as our hands — pressed into the warming snow. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, "On a spring cabin trip in Alaska’s Interior, signs of a changing season," 24 Apr. 2021 But now people can mount an unpublished design of his which uses paw prints from King Mufasa and newborn Simba to illustrate both the past and the future. Mark Kennedy, Star Tribune, "Rejected Broadway posters on sale to help theater community," 19 Apr. 2021 The wolf, which first set paw in California on Jan. 30, has traversed more than 500 miles of terrain including the high, cold, and steep Sierra Nevada range. Los Angeles Times, "Will the wolf survive? The stunning California odyssey of OR-93, a wolf on a mission," 25 Mar. 2021 The evaluator inspects the dog, gently brushes or combs him, examines his ears and picks up each front paw. Iris Katz,, "Pet Wise: Is your dog a Canine Good Citizen?," 20 Mar. 2021 While our animals might not wear fireworks as hats or paw through cupcake trays meant for humans, the ride shows the power of tactile, theatrical worlds. Todd Martens Game Critic, Los Angeles Times, "Robotic alley cats? Universal’s ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ is old school and devastatingly cute," 16 Apr. 2021 The Nazis don't appear until the end of the first season, and then only as the cat's paw for the main bad guy, a ruthlessly ambitious nationalist. Ross Douthat New York Times, Star Tribune, "The 'almost-familiarity' for the U.S. in a story of Germany before the fall," 30 Mar. 2021 Meet the cuddly canines making up the finalists for the 2020 contest below, and help these dogs get one paw closer to the grand prize by voting now., "Meet the Top Pups Vying to Win the World's Cutest Rescue Dog Contest and Vote For Your Favorite," 2 Sep. 2020 The San Diego resident spent two stints clerking for U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz in San Diego and was once a visiting assistant professor of paw at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Governor appoints 5 new judges to San Diego bench, nominates appellate justice," 8 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This has been studied in animals by looking at things like which hand monkeys use to grab something, which paw dogs use to knock food out of a container, and so on. Kelly Jaakkola, Scientific American, "Are Dolphins Right-Handed or Left-Handed?," 21 Feb. 2021 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

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

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Paw.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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.

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 Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
True or False

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

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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