There are 2 definitions of pawn in English:

pawn1

Line breaks: pawn
Pronunciation: /pɔːn
 
/

noun

  • 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.
    Synonyms
    puppet, dupe, hostage, counter, cog; tool, cat's paw, instrument
    informal stooge

Origin

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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Word of the day kerf
Pronunciation: kəːf
noun
a slit made by cutting with a saw

There are 2 definitions of pawn in English:

pawn2

Line breaks: pawn
Pronunciation: /pɔːn
 
/

verb

[with object]
  • Deposit (an object) with a pawnbroker as security for money lent: I pawned the necklace to cover the loan
    More example sentences
    • When Florentine grooms gave presents of jewels and clothes to their brides, they expected to retain or reappropriate the use of them at a later date, sometimes lending or pawning them.
    • In earlier centuries, the principal assets people had were their clothes, and they borrowed money by pawning their clothing.
    • I loved her, really, but I needed to pay for a late payment on my car insurance so I pawned her diamond necklace.
    Synonyms
    pledge, deposit with a pawnbroker, put in pawn, give as security, put up as security/collateral, use as collateral, mortgage
    informal hock, put in hock
    British informal pop

noun

archaic Back to top  
  • An object left as security for money lent: the bank did lend money upon pawns at low interest

Phrases

in pawn

(Of an object) held as security by a pawnbroker: our money was gone and everything was in pawn
More example sentences
  • A forty-dollar shovel will net you less than six bucks in pawn.
  • Unfortunately, his guitar is in pawn down at the local hock shop because he can't pay his bills on time.
  • She can't afford to pay off the money all at once and must leave her things in pawn.

Phrasal verbs

pawn someone/thing off

Pass off someone or something unwanted: newly industrialized economies are racing to pawn off old processes on poorer countries
More example sentences
  • Both boys are pawned off on grandmothers, who will die early and represent the only selfless love either child will know.
  • The federal government pawned this responsibility off to the municipalities.
  • I think you need to think about this the next time you decide to support someone who clearly has taken someone else's solution and tried to pawn it off as her own.

Origin

late 15th century (as a noun): from Old French pan 'pledge, security', of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch pand and German Pfand.

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