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[saw] /sɔ/
a tool or device for cutting, typically a thin blade of metal with a series of sharp teeth.
any similar tool or device, as a rotating disk, in which a sharp continuous edge replaces the teeth.
verb (used with object), sawed, sawed or sawn, sawing.
to cut or divide with a saw.
to form by cutting with a saw.
to make cutting motions as if using a saw:
to saw the air with one's hands.
to work (something) from side to side like a saw.
verb (used without object), sawed, sawed or sawn, sawing.
to use a saw.
to cut with or as if with a saw.
to cut as a saw does.
saw wood, Informal. to snore loudly while sleeping.
Origin of saw1
before 1000; (noun) Middle English sawe, Old English saga, *sagu; cognate with Dutch zaag, Old Norse sǫg; akin to German Säge saw, Latin secāre to cut (see section), Old English seax knife, sax2; (v.) Middle English sawen, derivative of the noun
Related forms
sawer, noun
sawlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for saw wood
Historical Examples
  • August 25: Not much time to write diary on race like this, it's just saw wood all the time or lose.

    The Trail of the Hawk Sinclair Lewis
  • Its up to them now, and we can only saw wood, and see what happens.

  • But you can fell and saw wood, and erect cottages that will suffice for present use, and serve as sheds when better times return.

  • Throughout his long career it has been his plan to "say nothing and saw wood."

  • Besides pumping and draining, they also saw wood and grind corn.

  • If they'd only let me go out, I'd saw wood all day, or anything.

    The William Henry Letters Abby Morton Diaz
  • I trade horses, and saw wood, and work in lumber-camps—I'm a first-rate swamper.

    Main Street Sinclair Lewis
  • He had said nothing and he was devoutly hopeful that he would have a chance to saw wood.

    The Lash Olin L. Lyman
  • If you see him, don't speak to him; but just drive ahead and 'saw wood.'

  • Get some wood, then, and a buck saw, and saw wood for your own benefit.

    How to Eat Thomas Clark Hinkle
British Dictionary definitions for saw wood


any of various hand tools for cutting wood, metal, etc, having a blade with teeth along one edge
any of various machines or devices for cutting by use of a toothed blade, such as a power-driven circular toothed wheel or toothed band of metal
verb saws, sawing, sawed, sawed, sawn
to cut with a saw
to form by sawing
to cut as if wielding a saw: to saw the air
to move (an object) from side to side as if moving a saw
Derived Forms
sawer, noun
sawlike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English sagu; related to Old Norse sog, Old High German saga, Latin secāre to cut, secūris axe


the past tense of see1


a wise saying, maxim, or proverb
Word Origin
Old English sagu a saying; related to saga


surface acoustic wave
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 saw wood



toothed cutting tool, Old English sagu, from Proto-Germanic *sago "a cutting tool" (cf. Old English seax "knife," Old Norse sög, Norwegian sag, Danish sav, Swedish såg, Middle Dutch saghe, Dutch zaag, Old High German saga, German Säge "saw"), from PIE root *sek- "to cut" (cf. Latin secare "to cut," Russian sech' "to cut;" see section (n.)).

"proverb, saying, maxim," Old English sagu "saying, discourse, speech, study, tradition, tale," from Proto-Germanic *saga-, *sagon- (cf. Middle Low German, Middle Dutch sage, zage, German Sage "legend, fable, saga, myth, tradition," Old Norse saga "story, tale, saga"), from PIE root *sek(w)- "to say, utter" (see say (v.)).


past tense of see; from Old English plural sawon.

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

saw wood

verb phrase

  1. To sleep, esp very soundly
  2. To snore

[1940s+; fr the sound of snoring]



  1. sawbuck (1940s+)
  2. he landlord of a rooming house (1950s+ Black)

Related Terms

double sawbuck

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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Idioms and Phrases with saw wood


see: old saw
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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