1. The foot of an animal, especially a quadruped, that has claws or nails.
2. Informal A human hand, especially a large clumsy one: "Lennie dabbled his big paw in the water" (John Steinbeck).
v. pawed, paw·ing, paws
1. To feel or strike with the paw or paws.
2. To strike or scrape with a beating motion: The bull pawed the ground before charging.
a. To touch or handle clumsily or roughly.
b. To feel or touch (another) in an annoying or unwanted way. See Synonyms at touch.
1. To scrape the ground with the forefeet: The horse pawed restlessly.
2. To handle someone or something clumsily, rudely, or with too much familiarity: Don't paw at everything you see.
[Middle English pawe, from Old French powe.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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.