1. The mouth, stomach, jaws, or gullet of a voracious animal, especially a carnivore.
2. The opening into something felt to be insatiable: "I saw the opening maw of hell" (Herman Melville).
[Middle English mawe, from Old English maga.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.