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verb (used without object)
  1. to utter a sound representing a hesitation or pause in speech.
  1. a sound or pause of hesitation.Compare hem2(def 3).

Origin of haw1

First recorded in 1625–35; imitative


  1. (used as a word of command to a horse or other draft animal, usually directing it to turn to the left.)
verb (used with or without object)
  1. to turn or make a turn to the left: The horse refused to haw.
Compare gee1.

Origin of haw2

1835–45, Americanism; apparently orig. the imperative haw! look! of Middle English hawen, Old English hāwian; akin to Latin cavēre to beware
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for hawing


  1. the round or oval fruit (a pome) of the hawthorn, usually red or yellow, containing one to five seeds
  2. another name for hawthorn

Word Origin

Old English haga, identical with haga hedge; related to Old Norse hagi pasture


noun, interjection
  1. an inarticulate utterance, as of hesitation, embarrassment, etc; hem
  1. (intr) to make this sound
  2. hem and haw or hum and haw See hem 2 (def. 3)

Word Origin

C17: of imitative origin


  1. archaic a yard or close

Word Origin

of unknown origin


  1. the nictitating membrane of a horse or other domestic animal

Word Origin

C15: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hawing



"hesitate in speech," 1580s, imitative. Related: Hawed; hawing. The noun in this sense is from c.1600. Haw-haw "style of affected enunciation" is from 1841, imitative.



"enclosure," Old English haga "enclosure, hedge," from Proto-Germanic *hag- (cf. Old Norse hagi, Old Saxon hago, German Hag "hedge;" Middle Dutch hage, Dutch haag, as in the city name The Hague). See hag and hedge. Meaning "fruit of the hawthorn bush" (Old English) is perhaps short for *hægberie.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with hawing


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.