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[paw] /pɔ/
the foot of an animal having claws.
the foot of any animal.
Informal. the human hand, especially one that is large, rough, or clumsy:
Keep your paws off my property.
verb (used with object)
to strike or scrape with the paws or feet:
a dog pawing the door.
Informal. to handle or caress clumsily, rudely, or with unwelcome familiarity.
verb (used without object)
to beat or scrape the floor, ground, etc., with the paws or feet.
Informal. to handle or caress someone or something in a clumsy or rude manner or with unwelcome familiarity.
Origin of paw1
1300-50; Middle English pawe, variant of powe < Middle French poue (cognate with Provençal pauta) < Germanic; compare Dutch poot, German Pfote
Related forms
pawer, noun
unpawed, adjective
Can be confused
paw, poor, pore.
pause, paws, pores, pours. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pawed
Historical Examples
  • They pawed over Apeman despite his snarls and bellowings, and laughed when Apeman played the ape as though to the manner born.

  • And when Fatty Coon pawed his way through to the nest he found it empty.

    The Tale of Master Meadow Mouse Arthur Scott Bailey
  • At last he came within fifty yards, stopped, pawed a patch of snow, and still we did not shoot.

  • I pawed McMeekin with my hands and breathed full into his face.

    Lalage's Lovers George A. Birmingham
  • They pawed over bolts of cheap lace and bins of stuff in the fetid air of the crowded place.

    Half Portions Edna Ferber
  • The horse rattled its bit, and pawed the ground impatient of delay.

  • But with a quiver of impatience the horse had pawed the ground and the tiny bird flew off to a distant clump of palmetto.

    Diane of the Green Van Leona Dalrymple
  • King snorted, pawed the dust a bit, but trotted on when Drew urged him.

    Ride Proud, Rebel! Andre Alice Norton
  • Disconsolate Kerry barked at my passing step, and pawed frantically at the window, but I made no effort to release him.

  • Seeing that the newcomer was only a woman, she lowered her head and pawed the ground.

    Cy Whittaker's Place Joseph C. Lincoln
British Dictionary definitions for pawed


any of the feet of a four-legged mammal, bearing claws or nails
(informal) a hand, esp one that is large, clumsy, etc
to scrape or contaminate with the paws or feet
(transitive) (informal) to touch or caress in a clumsy, rough, or overfamiliar manner; maul
Word Origin
C13: via Old French from Germanic; related to Middle Dutch pōte, German Pfote
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
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Word Origin and History for pawed



c.1300, from Old French powe, poe "paw, fist," of uncertain origin. Evidence points to a Gallo-Romance root form *pauta which probably is related to the source of patten.


"use the hands roughly," c.1600, from paw (n.). Related: Pawed; pawing. Middle English had pawen "to touch or strike with the paw" (c.1400).



"use the hands roughly," c.1600, from paw (n.). Related: Pawed; pawing. Middle English had pawen "to touch or strike with the paw" (c.1400).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for pawed



A hand: You let me get my paws on the money (1605+)


To touch and handle, esp in a crude sexual way (1701+)

Related Terms

northpaw, southpaw

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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