1. the mouth, throat, or gullet of an animal, especially a carnivorous mammal.
  2. the crop or craw of a fowl.
  3. the stomach, especially that of an animal.
  4. a cavernous opening that resembles the open jaws of an animal: the gaping maw of hell.
  5. the symbolic or theoretical center of a voracious hunger or appetite of any kind: the ravenous maw of Death.

Origin of maw

before 900; Middle English mawe, Old English maga; cognate with Dutch maag, German Magen, Old Norse magi
Can be confusedmall maul maw


noun Informal.
  1. mother1.

Origin of maw

variant of ma Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for maws

craw, gullet, crop, jaws

Examples from the Web for maws

Historical Examples of maws

  • O, sir, have a good stomach and maws; you shall have a joyful supper.

  • He saw many salmon leaping, and found them in the maws of cod.


    Ella Higginson

  • My brethren, will ye suffocate in the fumes of their maws and appetites!

    Thus Spake Zarathustra

    Friedrich Nietzsche

  • He brandished the shovel with which he had been shamefully forced to feed the maws of the furnaces.

    The Portal of Dreams

    Charles Neville Buck

  • Guess Ive got maws fool in a fuss, he said grimly to himself as he braced his body for a struggle.

British Dictionary definitions for maws


  1. the mouth, throat, crop, or stomach of an animal, esp of a voracious animal
  2. informal the mouth or stomach of a greedy person

Word Origin for maw

Old English maga; related to Middle Dutch maghe, Old Norse magi
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 maws



Old English maga "stomach" (of men and animals; in Modern English only of animals unless insultingly), from Proto-Germanic *magon "bag, stomach" (cf. Old Frisian maga, Old Norse magi, Danish mave, Middle Dutch maghe, Dutch maag, Old High German mago, German Magen "stomach"), from PIE *mak- "leather bag" (cf. Welsh megin "bellows," Lithuanian makas, Old Church Slavonic mošina "bag, pouch"). Meaning "throat, gullet" is from 1520s. Metaphoric of voracity from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper