Definition of pawn in English:


Line breaks: pawn
Pronunciation: /pɔːn


1A chess piece of the smallest size and value, that moves one square forwards along its file if unobstructed (or two on the first move), or one square diagonally forwards when making a capture. Each player begins with eight pawns on the second rank, and can promote a pawn to become any other piece (typically a queen) if it reaches the opponent’s end of the board.
More example sentences
  • The game of chess with sword-wielding pawns and deadly queens is both dramatic and mightily beautiful.
  • Finally when a player promotes a pawn, they swap it for one of the pieces that their partner's opponent is waiting to place on their board.
  • Also important is the number of pawns on the board, especially when the minor piece is the knight.
1.1A person used by others for their own purposes: he was a pawn in the game of power politics
More example sentences
  • To her father, she was merely a bargaining tool, a pawn in the game of politics, not a daughter.
  • They were no longer willing to be pawns in the game of power being played out between the Indian and Pakistani governments, or indeed the militants.
  • Up to now, these nations have been able to play around with terrorists as if they were pawns in this geopolitical game.


late Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French poun, from medieval Latin pedo, pedon- 'foot soldier', from Latin pes, ped- 'foot'. Compare with peon.

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lack of modesty