verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

Origin of claw

before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English clawu; cognate with Old High German chlō(a), akin to Dutch klauw, German Klaue; (v.) Middle English clawen, Old English claw(i)an, derivative of clawu (noun); akin to Dutch klauwen, German klauen
Related formsclaw·er, nounclaw·less, adjectivede·claw, verb (used with object)
Can be confusedclause claws Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for claw

Contemporary Examples of claw

Historical Examples of claw

  • We have brains, and with our brains we must do in a scientific way what Nature does with tooth and claw.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • The bird was standing upon one leg, and in the other claw held a stone.

  • Unlike any animals he had ever encountered, they did not bite nor claw.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • He could hit, and he could hit hard, but he did not care to claw and scratch and bite!

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • He would fight them tooth and claw, and yet Lionel should not suffer.

    The Sea-Hawk

    Raphael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for claw



a curved pointed horny process on the end of each digit in birds, some reptiles, and certain mammals
a corresponding structure in some invertebrates, such as the pincer of a crab
a part or member like a claw in function or appearance
botany the narrow basal part of certain petals and sepals


to scrape, tear, or dig (something or someone) with claws, etc
(tr) to create by scratching as with clawsto claw an opening
Derived Formsclawer, nounclawless, adjective

Word Origin for claw

Old English clawu; related to Old High German kluwi, Sanskrit glau- ball, sphere
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 claw

Old English clawu, earlier clea, "claw, talon, iron hook," from Proto-Germanic *klawo (cf. Old Frisian klawe "claw, hoe," Middle Dutch klouwe, Dutch klauw, Old High German klawa, German Klaue "claw").

Claw-foot in reference to furniture is from 1823; claw-and-ball attested from 1893. Claw-hammer attested from 1769.


Old English clawian "to scratch, claw," from the same root as claw (n.). Related: Clawed; clawing. Cf. Dutch klaauwen, Old High German klawan, German klauen. To claw back"regain by great effort" is from 1953; as a noun, an act of this, from 1969.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

claw in Science



A sharp, curved nail at the end of a toe of a mammal, reptile, or bird.
A pincer, as of a lobster or crab, used for grasping.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.