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  1. any of numerous birds of prey of the family Accipitridae, having a short, hooked beak, broad wings, and curved talons, often seen circling or swooping at low altitudes.
  2. any of several similar, unrelated birds, as the nighthawk.
  3. Informal. a person who preys on others, as a sharper.
  4. Also called war hawk. Informal. a person, especially one in public office, who advocates war or a belligerent national attitude.Compare dove1(def 5).
  5. any person who pursues an aggressive policy in business, government, etc.: The corporation is now run by a bunch of young hawks.
verb (used without object)
  1. to fly, or hunt on the wing, like a hawk.
  2. to hunt with hawks.

Origin of hawk1

before 900; Middle English hauk(e), Old English hafoc; cognate with Old Frisian havek, Old Saxon habuc Old High German habuh, Old Norse haukr hawk, perhaps Polish kobuz kind of falcon
Related formshawk·like, adjective


verb (used with object)
  1. to peddle or offer for sale by calling aloud in public.
  2. to advertise or offer for sale: to hawk soap on television.
  3. to spread (rumors, news, etc.).
verb (used without object)
  1. to carry wares about for sale; peddle.

Origin of hawk2

First recorded in 1470–80; back formation from hawker2


verb (used without object)
  1. to make an effort to raise phlegm from the throat; clear the throat noisily.
verb (used with object)
  1. to raise by noisily clearing the throat: to hawk phlegm up.
  1. a noisy effort to clear the throat.

Origin of hawk3

1575–85; imitative; see haw1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for hawked

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Two days afterwards, the story was hawked about the streets.

  • Donkey-loads of hoja, or corn-shucks, were hawked about for sale.

    Some Heroes of Travel

    W. H. Davenport Adams

  • Had I understood the trick, I would have hawked for them and helped feed them myself!


    Dallas Lore Sharp

  • Either "he" or "she" hawked or "did some'at" and got a living for both.

  • He hawked about his notion of the way to India at all the courts of Europe.

British Dictionary definitions for hawked


  1. any of various diurnal birds of prey of the family Accipitridae, such as the goshawk and Cooper's hawk, typically having short rounded wings and a long tailRelated adjective: accipitrine
  2. US and Canadian any of various other falconiform birds, including the falcons but not the eagles or vultures
  3. a person who advocates or supports war or warlike policiesCompare dove 1 (def. 2)
  4. a ruthless or rapacious person
  5. know a hawk from a handsaw to be able to judge things; be discerning
  1. (intr) to hunt with falcons, hawks, etc
  2. (intr) (of falcons or hawks) to fly in quest of prey
  3. to pursue or attack on the wing, as a hawk
Derived Formshawklike, adjective

Word Origin

from Shakespeare (Hamlet II:2:375); handsaw is probably a corruption of dialect heronshaw heron Old English hafoc; related to Old Norse haukr, Old Frisian havek, Old High German habuh, Polish kobuz


  1. to offer (goods) for sale, as in the street
  2. (tr often foll by about) to spread (news, gossip, etc)

Word Origin

C16: back formation from hawker 1


  1. (intr) to clear the throat noisily
  2. (tr) to force (phlegm) up from the throat
  3. British a slang word for spit 1
  1. a noisy clearing of the throat

Word Origin

C16: of imitative origin; see haw ²


  1. a small square board with a handle underneath, used for carrying wet plaster or mortarAlso called: mortar board

Word Origin

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 hawked



"to hunt with a hawk," mid-14c., from hawk (n.).



"to clear one's throat," 1580s, imitative.



c.1300, hauk, earlier havek (c.1200), from Old English hafoc (W. Saxon), heafuc (Mercian), heafoc, from Proto-Germanic *habukaz (cf. Old Norse haukr, Old Saxon habuc, Middle Dutch havik, Old High German habuh, German Habicht "hawk"), from a root meaning "to seize," from PIE *kap- "to grasp" (cf. Russian kobec "a kind of falcon;" see capable). Transferred sense of "militarist" attested from 1962.



"to sell in the open, peddle," late 15c., back-formation from hawker "itinerant vendor" (c.1400), from Middle Low German höken "to peddle, carry on the back, squat," from Proto-Germanic *huk-. Related: Hawked; hawking. Despite the etymological connection with stooping under a burden on one's back, a hawker is technically distinguished from a peddler by use of a horse and cart or a van.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with hawked


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