See more synonyms for jaw on Thesaurus.com
  1. either of two bones, the mandible or maxilla, forming the framework of the mouth.
  2. the part of the face covering these bones, the mouth, or the mouth parts collectively: My jaw is swollen.
  3. jaws, anything resembling a pair of jaws or evoking the concept of grasping and holding: the jaws of a gorge; the jaws of death.
  4. Machinery.
    1. one of two or more parts, as of a machine, that grasp or hold something: the jaws of a vise.
    2. any of two or more protruding parts for attaching to or meshing with similar parts.
  5. Often jaws. Also called throat. Nautical. a forked piece at the end of a gaff, fitting halfway around the mast.
  6. Slang.
    1. idle talk; chatter.
    2. impertinent talk.
verb (used without object)
  1. Slang.
    1. to talk; chat; gossip.
    2. to scold or use abusive language.
verb (used with object)
  1. Slang. to scold.

Origin of jaw

1325–75; Middle English jawe, jowe < Old French joue; origin uncertain
Related formsjaw·less, adjective


[jaw]Scot. and North England
  1. a swelling wave of water; billow.
verb (used without object)
  1. (of liquid) to surge, splash, or dash forward, as in waves.
verb (used with object)
  1. to pour or splash (liquid).

Origin of jaw

First recorded in 1505–15; perhaps akin to jaup
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for jaws

Contemporary Examples of jaws

Historical Examples of jaws

  • This father would not even look at the son that had but just escaped the jaws of death!

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Burke's broad jowls shook from the force with which he snapped his jaws together.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Peter set his jaws and continued his meditations on shoe leather.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • His jaws were apart, and through them the tongue protruded, draggled and limp.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • At the instant his jaws closed on it, White Fang struck him.

    White Fang

    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for jaws


pl n
  1. the narrow opening of some confined place such as a gorge
  2. the jaws a dangerously close positionthe jaws of death


  1. the part of the skull of a vertebrate that frames the mouth and holds the teeth. In higher vertebrates it consists of the upper jaw (maxilla) fused to the cranium and the lower jaw (mandible)Related adjectives: gnathal, gnathic
  2. the corresponding part of an invertebrate, esp an insect
  3. a pair or either of a pair of hinged or sliding components of a machine or tool designed to grip an object
  4. slang
    1. impudent talk; cheek
    2. idle conversation; chat
    3. moralizing talk; a lecture
  1. (intr) slang
    1. to talk idly; chat; gossip
    2. to lecture
See also jaws
Derived Formsjawlike, adjective

Word Origin for jaw

C14: probably from Old French joue cheek; related to Italian gota cheek
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 jaws



late 14c., "the bones of the mouth," perhaps from Old French joue "cheek," from Gaulish *gauta "cheek," or perhaps a variant of Germanic words related to chew (q.v.); cf. also jowl. Replaced Old English ceace, ceafl.



1610s, "to catch in the jaws, devour," from jaw (n.). In slang from 1748, "to gossip, to speak" 1810, "to scold." Related: Jawed; jawing. Hence 19c. U.S. slang jawsmith "talkative person" (1887).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

jaws in Medicine


  1. Either of two bony structures that form the framework of the mouth and hold the teeth.
  2. The mandible or maxilla or the part of the face covering these bones.
Related formsjawless adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

jaws in Science


  1. Either of two bony or cartilaginous structures that in most vertebrate animals form the framework of the mouth, hold the teeth, and are used for biting and chewing food. The lower, movable part of the jaw is the mandible. The upper, fixed part is the maxilla.
  2. Any of various structures of invertebrate animals, such as the pincers of spiders or mites, that function similarly to the jaws of vertebrates.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.