• synonyms


See more synonyms for paw on Thesaurus.com
  1. the foot of an animal having claws.
  2. the foot of any animal.
  3. Informal. the human hand, especially one that is large, rough, or clumsy: Keep your paws off my property.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to strike or scrape with the paws or feet: a dog pawing the door.
  2. Informal. to handle or caress clumsily, rudely, or with unwelcome familiarity.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to beat or scrape the floor, ground, etc., with the paws or feet.
  2. Informal. to handle or caress someone or something in a clumsy or rude manner or with unwelcome familiarity.
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Origin of paw

1300–50; Middle English pawe, variant of powe < Middle French poue (cognate with Provençal pauta) < Germanic; compare Dutch poot, German Pfote
Related formspaw·er, nounun·pawed, adjective
Can be confusedpaw poor porepause paws pores pours


noun Informal.
  1. father; pa.
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Origin of paw

1900–05, Americanism; earlier and dial. pronunciation of pa, reflecting the now lapsed constraint against a maximally open back vowel in an open stressed final syllable
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for paw

fondle, feel, scratch, slap, stroke, hit, molest, smite, pat, finger, rasp, handle, rub, rake, palpate, grate, grope, search, clutch, dig

Examples from the Web for paw

Contemporary Examples of paw

Historical Examples of paw

  • Rechid was only their cat's-paw, thinking he played his own hand.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • Before, he had looked like a giant; now Wahb felt he could crush him with one paw.

    The Biography of a Grizzly

    Ernest Seton-Thompson

  • At this, with one sweep of his sword, Hugh struck at the cat's paw.

    Welsh Fairy Tales

    William Elliott Griffis

  • The creature comes to the tree by night, inserts his paw, and grasps his booty.


    Samuel Smiles

  • He placed his paw on one, and its movements were accelerated.

    White Fang

    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for paw


  1. any of the feet of a four-legged mammal, bearing claws or nails
  2. informal a hand, esp one that is large, clumsy, etc
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  1. to scrape or contaminate with the paws or feet
  2. (tr) informal to touch or caress in a clumsy, rough, or overfamiliar manner; maul
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Word Origin for paw

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

Word Origin and History for paw


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.

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"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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper