Definition of claw in English:

claw

noun

  • 1A curved pointed horny nail on each digit of the foot in birds, lizards, and some mammals.

    • ‘He lunged at me, diving down like an eagle towards a fish in the stream, extending longer and deadlier claws than any bird of prey could boast of.’
    • ‘Birds that cling to and climb the sides of trees, like woodpeckers and nuthatches, have strongly curved claws.’
    • ‘Yet these earlier birds did not possess claws on their wings or teeth in their beaks.’
    • ‘The creature's claws were as curved like scythes, and as long as long swords.’
    • ‘A bird's claw was gripping the end of the hilt.’
    • ‘The unguals are curved and taper to a sharp point, indicating that the digits terminated in distinct claws.’
    • ‘The Cape clawless otter derives its name from the fact that there are no claws on the digits.’
    • ‘He was also presented with a special ceremonial stick with a real eagle's claw attached.’
    • ‘But those don't look like cat claw marks.’
    • ‘Without glue, suction, or claws, these lizards scamper up walls and hang from ceilings.’
    • ‘Stalls sold everything from dried lizards and birds' claws to spanners, nails and toothpaste.’
    • ‘In mammals, alpha-keratin is found in hair, bristles, hooves, nails, and claws as well as in soft skin.’
    • ‘His tail was wrapped around the pipe to hold himself steady and his claws were curved and elongated to hold him fast.’
    • ‘Lured into a folk chemist, I ducked beneath lizard claws and snake skins, dodged the birds' feet and goat horns.’
    • ‘The cat jumped to a height of two metres or more, hooked the bird with the claws of one outstretched paw and brought it crashing down to earth.’
    • ‘The limbs are only moderately long, and the feet are narrow, with four main digits and short claws.’
    • ‘They have 5 digits, each with long and sharp claws, the third claw being especially well developed.’
    • ‘All digits have claws, which are not large but are very sharp.’
    • ‘His hands are the same, long, clever fingers, five of them, with webbing stretched between and ending in wicked, slightly curved, claws.’
    • ‘Like many other rodents, all squirrels have five functional toes on the hindfeet and four on the forefeet, with a well-developed claw on each digit.’
    nail, talon
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Either of a pair of small hooked appendages on an insect's foot.
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2 The pincer of a crab, scorpion, or other arthropod.
      • ‘The smoker returned in time for the special starter of fresh crab meat with crab claws.’
      • ‘Before picking up a crab, we detached attached males by carefully pushing their claws off the females' terminal spines.’
      • ‘Six large white and pink peeled crab claws were placed on the plate, basted with oil that made them shiny and enticing.’
      • ‘The shop also has a wide range of seafood including tiger prawns, mussels, sea bream and breaded crab claws.’
      • ‘She was slightly less pleased with her crab and prawn thermidor, having expected a dish of crab claws and prawns rather than the tasty stew topped with crumble she received.’
      • ‘Add the crab claws and the remaining spring onions, stir well and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.’
      • ‘Other starters included crispy potato skins with bacon and cheddar, Caesar salad, New Zealand mussels, crab claws and chowder.’
      • ‘In some chelicerates, such as scorpions and some eurypterids, the pedipalps are modified into large claws.’
      • ‘The lamb is divine, and the feast includes crab claws, soup, homemade scones and rhubarb tart.’
      • ‘Season the lobster claws and sauté on both sides until warmed through, about three minutes.’
      • ‘For starters, we were unable to resist the crab claws with prawn meat stuffing - pricey at £5, but they sounded delicious.’
      • ‘The fiery broth is overflowing with tender calamari, a crab claw, shrimp, chunks of fish and one impeccable scallop.’
      • ‘But then Johnson saw the red claw and other characteristics of female crabs.’
      • ‘The male fiddler crab bangs territorial warnings into the sand with its oversized claw.’
      • ‘Top with the meat of one lobster claw and knuckle and half of one lobster tail.’
      • ‘Male fiddler crabs have one claw much larger than the other, which they use to signal to each other.’
      • ‘In some species, large males may use their major claw to kill smaller crabs.’
      • ‘We scramble between fishing rods, cameras and delicious crab claws, reluctant to sacrifice any of the three.’
      • ‘Please find attached two pictures that I took of a crab with four pincers on the one claw.’
      • ‘They look like scorpions without tail or claws, and they live from animals' droppings.’
      pincer, nipper
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    3. 1.3 A mechanical device resembling a claw, used for gripping or lifting.
      • ‘They resembled green humanoid lizards, except for the black bodysuits and mechanical claws.’
      • ‘He extended a hooked claw and jimmied the window open.’
      • ‘Mechanical diggers moved in with dinosaur-like claws, ripping away chunks of the six-storey building.’
      • ‘It took the huge mechanical claw of a giant bulldozer just 35 minutes to crush it to a pile of dust.’
      • ‘This he replaced with a mechanical claw plated with a non-tarnishing gold alloy.’
      • ‘Somehow less alarming than that was was the deadly looking metal claw hanging from its left shoulder.’
      • ‘They were picked up too, and brought into hangars by metal claws on strong wires.’

verb

  • 1no object Scratch or tear something with the claws or the fingernails.

    ‘the kitten was clawing at Lowell's trouser leg’
    with object ‘her hands clawed his shoulders’
    • ‘She scratched and clawed at him but he forced her into a chair and tied her hands behind her back.’
    • ‘They rolled around on the floor, angrily scratching and slapping and clawing at each other.’
    • ‘The woman had flung herself against the locked door, clawing at the wood with her fingernails.’
    • ‘Last time I was teaching them however, I was clawing at the door by about two o'clock hoping that someone would walk past so I could grab them and run away.’
    • ‘They like to mind their own business and will only bother you when they're bored or at election time when they'll hover around the refrigerator clawing at your legs.’
    • ‘His free hand scrabbled desperately around, and he began clawing at his attacker.’
    • ‘He follows me around, cooing and clawing at me, begging for attention.’
    • ‘She should be clawing at him with her verbal jabs.’
    • ‘I recall a vivid childhood dream of being trapped in a tiny house with a werewolf clawing at the windows and doors.’
    • ‘His fingers were clawing at my arms as he tried to get away.’
    • ‘I kept on yelling, while scratching and clawing at something in my back.’
    • ‘She reached up to claw out his eyes, and he caught her other wrist.’
    • ‘She pounced on the man's back, ripping and clawing away at him.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's just that all the little things that I never used to worry about are now clawing at my mind, and my heart.’
    • ‘However, they sometimes pass out or go into frenzies of tearing off their clothes and clawing at their exposed skin, until they receive medical attention by staff on duty.’
    • ‘She became hysterical: screaming, clawing at her face, pulling at her hair.’
    • ‘Say your cat is clawing your couch or your dog is chewing your leather shoe.’
    • ‘I'm thinking of starting a sweepstake on how long it'll be before the cats start clawing at them and bring one down.’
    • ‘Hours after the quake rocked central and southern Italy, rescue teams were clawing at the concrete in the search for survivors.’
    scratch, lacerate, tear, rake, rip, slash, scrape, graze, dig into
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Clutch at something with the hands.
      ‘his fingers clawed at the air’
      • ‘In several places we each went sprawling, clawing at tufts of dead grass to stop from cartwheeling down the mountain.’
      • ‘Tim started yelling about extra innings, waving the bat around and clawing at the charred beams above the furnace.’
      • ‘Every baby I would swaddle would end up busting out of his bundle and crying his damn little head off, limbs flailing and clawing at the air.’
      • ‘Her fingernails clawed at the rock, straining to keep hold against the vehement wind.’
      • ‘In the beginning there was darkness and fingers clawing at loose debris on the ground.’
      • ‘She fell to her knees gasping for air, her hands clawing at her throat.’
      • ‘Gasping, clawing at the empty air, she sunk to the ground.’
      • ‘Her arms were spread and arched behind her back, her fingers clawing at the air as if she were trying to slow herself down.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I viciously clawed at his clothing, almost ripping his favorite shirt.’
      • ‘I make angry pain noises, clawing at her unyielding fingers in agony.’
      • ‘He slowly clawed at the rope, eventually getting him out.’
      • ‘Searching, Alex frantically clawed at the strong arm that possessed her, looking for an escape amidst chaos.’
      • ‘He shut his eyes, fingers clawing at the rock below him.’
      • ‘His fingers were clawing at my arms as he tried to get away.’
      • ‘He would notice that I was not clawing at him as though I wanted to devour him, but I was instead waiting patiently for the other girls to get bored with him, so he would be free to marry me on the spot.’
      • ‘He threw himself back in suffocating agony and began to claw desperately at his throat.’
      • ‘Every time I closed my eyes I saw that man clawing at his throat.’
      • ‘But I still have that feeling of suffocation, that my lungs are clawing at the air for a breath.’
      • ‘Beads of sweat formed on his brow, and he began clawing at his chest.’
      reach for, snatch at, make a grab for, catch at, claw at
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    2. 1.2claw 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’
      figurative ‘she was determined to claw her way out of poverty and find fame’
      • ‘This comes from a man who is still young enough to claw his way up the corporate ladder.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is a club which again and again has had to fight hard for its achievements, clawing its way up the league table only to slip down and have to begin the hard climb once more.’
      • ‘Not wanting to go down without a fight, he continued to claw his way forward, continually hoping that he was heading the right direction.’
    3. 1.3claw something awaywith object Try desperately to move or remove something with the hands.
      ‘rescuers clawed away rubble with their bare hands’
      • ‘Robinson was moving right across his goalline but stretched back and clawed the ball away.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Now, there was only the rock, the pick, and the pain of mutilated fingers forced to claw the rock away when the pick became too heavy to lift.’
      • ‘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.’
    4. 1.4Scottish with object Scratch (a part of one's body) gently so as to relieve itching.
  • 2Nautical
    no object (of a sailing ship) beat to windward.

    ‘the ability to claw off a lee shore’

Phrases

  • get one's claws into

    • informal Enter into a possessive relationship with.

      ‘she's already got her claws into the handyman’
      • ‘Once she's got her claws into a man he's usually putty in her hands.’
      • ‘Girl, if you don't get your claws into him soon, someone else will.’
      • ‘How do you manage to get your claws into all the good ones?’
      • ‘Why on earth does it matter which female manages to get her claws into him?’
      • ‘That's Sam out there, and she's got her claws into him.’
      • ‘For years the supermarket giants have been looking to get their claws into the pharmacy market as they have slowly picked off the rest of the High Street.’
      • ‘She's got her claws into guys on the sub-committee, so whatever story I come up with has to sound close to what we're really doing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Yeah, and don't think you're getting your claws into my man either.’
      • ‘Most of the girls in the class looked as if they planned to get their claws into him already.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • claw something back

    • 1Regain a lost advantage or position laboriously and gradually.

      ‘a hostile majority were committed to clawing back power from the president’
      • ‘During his time as editor, it consistently won its ratings battle, clawing back ground which had been lost to its great rival over a long period.’
      • ‘Point by point they clawed back the deficit and at last drew level with two minutes to go.’
      • ‘Within three minutes he had clawed another point back in a fine individual move.’
      • ‘However the Wildcats gradually clawed it back and, in the end, it was the superior experience and craft of the Wildcats girls that proved to be the vital difference.’
      • ‘We owed £30,000 to the record company for years, but we've finally clawed it back.’
      retrieve, regain, regain possession of, get back, win back, take back, recoup, reclaim, repossess, recapture, retake, redeem
      View synonyms
    • 2(of a government) recover money paid out in the form of an allowance or benefit, typically by taxation.

      ‘the government is trying to claw back the pay rises extracted by workers since deregulation of food prices’
      • ‘Tax cuts can be clawed back, but spending can't so easily.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The silence from high-street tills could prove deafening as that cash is clawed back.’
      • ‘But again this will be clawed back sharply for all but the lowest earners.’
      • ‘Councillors are now demanding to know why the massive overpayments of housing and council tax benefits have occurred and why only a third of the money has been clawed back by the council.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

claw

/klɔː/