Definition of claw in English:

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Pronunciation: /klô/


1A curved pointed horny nail on each digit of the foot in birds, lizards, and some mammals.
Example sentences
  • Stalls sold everything from dried lizards and birds' claws to spanners, nails and toothpaste.
  • The limbs are only moderately long, and the feet are narrow, with four main digits and short claws.
  • Lured into a folk chemist, I ducked beneath lizard claws and snake skins, dodged the birds' feet and goat horns.
talon, nail
technical unguis
1.1Either of a pair of small hooked appendages on an insect’s leg.
Example sentences
  • Since the claw flexor muscle in insects has no antagonist, claws and arolium are moved back by elastic recoil of stretched exocuticle.
  • In other words, they can grab a piece of food with the little claws on their feet, taste it, then bring it up to their mouth and taste it again.
  • To hold on, insects, including ants, rely on small claws or on sticky foot secretions.
1.2The pincer of a crab, scorpion, or other arthropod.
Example sentences
  • Please find attached two pictures that I took of a crab with four pincers on the one claw.
  • In some species, large males may use their major claw to kill smaller crabs.
  • They look like scorpions without tail or claws, and they live from animals' droppings.
1.3A mechanical device resembling a claw, used for gripping or lifting.
Example sentences
  • This he replaced with a mechanical claw plated with a non-tarnishing gold alloy.
  • It took the huge mechanical claw of a giant bulldozer just 35 minutes to crush it to a pile of dust.
  • They resembled green humanoid lizards, except for the black bodysuits and mechanical claws.


1 [no object] (Of an animal or person) scratch or tear something with the claws or the fingernails: the kitten was clawing at Lowell’s trouser leg figurative bitter jealousy clawed at her [with object]: her hands clawed his shoulders
More example sentences
  • I kept on yelling, while scratching and clawing at something in my back.
  • They rolled around on the floor, angrily scratching and slapping and clawing at each other.
  • He was holding onto the thick leg of an armchair, but tiny, scratching hands were clawing at him, forcing him to loosen his grip more and more gradually.
scratch, lacerate, tear, rip, scrape, graze, dig into
1.1Clutch at something with the hands: his fingers clawed at the air
More example sentences
  • It was a pitiful thing to find fortunate, but at that point she would grab and claw at anything that could possibly brighten the atmosphere.
  • He threw himself back in suffocating agony and began to claw desperately at his throat.
  • She fell to her knees gasping for air, her hands clawing at her throat.
1.2 (claw one's way) Make one’s way with difficulty by hauling oneself forward with one’s hands: he clawed his way over a pile of bricks
More example sentences
  • He has a number of technical limitations, but he makes up for it by scrapping and clawing his way forward.
  • So I crawled, dragging myself over the ground, clawing my way forward because I couldn't bring myself to give up.
  • Not wanting to go down without a fight, he continued to claw his way forward, continually hoping that he was heading the right direction.
1.3 [with object] (claw something away) Try desperately to move or remove something with the hands: rescuers clawed away rubble with their bare hands
More example sentences
  • But he acrobatically clawed the shot away only for the rebound to be slapped over the line.
  • How could I when you were practically clawing my hand away every time I tried to steal a bite?
  • It was like pulling off a giant plaster, each hair being slowly ripped from my body, no matter how quickly she clawed the strip away to lessen the sting.
2 [no object] (Of a sailing ship) beat to windward: the ability to claw off a lee shore


get one's claws into

informal Enter into a possessive relationship with.
Example sentences
  • Most of the girls in the class looked as if they planned to get their claws into him already.
  • How do you manage to get your claws into all the good ones?
  • There's no point in telling a jaded, modern reader a story about something that happened 1,600 years ago unless you can give them enough detail so that the reader can get their claws into it and feel it and smell it and taste it.

Phrasal verbs

claw something back

(Of a government) recover money disbursed in the form of an allowance or benefit, typically by taxation.
Example sentences
  • The government had promised the lump sum would never push an individual into a higher tax bracket, which could result in 40% of the payment being clawed back.
  • But again this will be clawed back sharply for all but the lowest earners.
  • The silence from high-street tills could prove deafening as that cash is clawed back.



Example sentences
  • Indeed, before the season began, any resemblance between last year's fearsome Wildcats and this year's clawless kittens was supposed to be no more than fleeting fabrication and pure whimsy.
  • She tried to scratch him with her clawless paws, but her attempt was enough to make him draw back.
  • The fur color of the Cape clawless otter varies.


Old English clawu (noun), clawian (verb); related to Dutch klauw and German Klaue.

Words that rhyme with claw

abhor, adore, afore, anymore, ashore, awe, bandore, Bangalore, before, boar, Boer, bore, caw, chore, cocksure, comprador, cor, core, corps, craw, Delors, deplore, door, draw, drawer, evermore, explore, flaw, floor, for, forbore, fore, foresaw, forevermore, forswore, four, fourscore, furthermore, Gábor, galore, gnaw, gore, grantor, guarantor, guffaw, hard-core, Haugh, haw, hoar, ignore, implore, Indore, interwar, jaw, Johor, Lahore, law, lessor, lor, lore, macaw, man-o'-war, maw, mirador, mor, more, mortgagor, Mysore, nevermore, nor, oar, obligor, offshore, onshore, open-jaw, or, ore, outdoor, outwore, paw, poor, pore, pour, rapport, raw, roar, saw, scaur, score, senhor, señor, shaw, ship-to-shore, shop-floor, shore, signor, Singapore, snore, soar, softcore, sore, spore, store, straw, swore, Tagore, tau, taw, thaw, Thor, threescore, tor, tore, torr, trapdoor, tug-of-war, two-by-four, underfloor, underscore, war, warrantor, Waugh, whore, withdraw, wore, yaw, yore, your

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: claw

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