Definition of jaw in English:



  • 1Each of the upper and lower bony structures in vertebrates forming the framework of the mouth and containing the teeth.

    • ‘Fish with jaws usually have five functional pairs of gill arches.’
    • ‘The lower jaw of the haddock is slightly shorter than the upper jaw and the fish has a small single barbel.’
    • ‘The crocodile had mounted an offense and taken the body of a native, crushing him in its jaws.’
    • ‘Massive carnivorous dinosaurs known as spinosaurs had snouts and jaws similar to modern fish-eating crocodiles.’
    • ‘The lower jaw is the primary site of force transmission from the body and jaw muscles to the jaws, in mouth opening and, to a lesser extent, jaw closing.’
    • ‘Most diprotodonts have three pairs of incisors in their upper jaws, but this number is reduced to one pair in one family, the wombats.’
    • ‘I clench my jaws and remember my determination.’
    • ‘Humans may have learned about what a high fat, high protein meal the marrow was from the hyenas, who could crush bones with their jaws.’
    • ‘Ruminants also lack incisors in the upper jaw, and most lack canines in the upper jaw as well.’
    • ‘The dental arch of the lower jaw is in a state of mesial occlusion with that of the upper jaw.’
    • ‘Full dentures are needed when there are no teeth left in the upper or lower jaw.’
    • ‘The primary skeletal difference between reptiles and mammals is found in the structure of their jaws.’
    • ‘In others, the way the upper and lower jaws meet can cause teeth to look unsightly and lead to an incorrect bite. Orthodontic treatment may be able to correct this.’
    • ‘See how a mother alligator protects her newborn hatchlings in her otherwise deadly jaws, and learn what dangers the babies face in the wild.’
    • ‘The fossil skull's upper and lower jaws reveal deep channels and grooves that once held nerves and blood vessels.’
    • ‘Six of these measurements capture cranial shape, and eight capture dental adaptations of both the upper and the lower jaw.’
    • ‘Named after their spotted coats and fearsome jaws, leopard seals have large, reptilian heads and streamlined bodies.’
    • ‘Capybaras are classified with the hystricognaths, but their jaws appear to have secondarily become almost sciurognathous.’
    • ‘Thomas cites the experience of a nineteenth-century explorer saved by a companion just as a lion's jaws had begun to crush his chest.’
    • ‘The jaw is undershot, which means the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw.’
    jawbone, lower jaw, mandible
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    1. 1.1 The lower movable bone of the jaw, or the part of the face containing it.
      ‘she suffered a broken jaw’
      • ‘He almost died, and had to crawl his way to help despite broken bones and a shattered jaw.’
      • ‘On 18 February 1992 a demonstration was violently attacked by the police and the Applicant suffered a broken jaw.’
      • ‘The sergeant's jaw dropped and it looked as if he was trying to strike Manny dead with a lightning bolt from his gaping mouth.’
      • ‘She suffered a broken jaw, cheekbone, forearm and pelvis.’
      • ‘He suffered a broken femur, broken jaw and broken cheekbone.’
      • ‘The lorry driver escaped unhurt but Butcher suffered serious head injuries and a broken jaw.’
      • ‘She had to have reconstructive surgery at the weekend to repair a broken jaw and damage to her eye sockets.’
      • ‘Not only was Ali beaten by Norton in their first fight, but he also suffered a broken jaw in the fight.’
      • ‘Mr Napier said the man suffered a broken nose, a broken jaw and a suspected fractured skull.’
      • ‘Steve Davey returns to the bench after making a remarkable recovery from a broken jaw suffered just three weeks ago.’
      • ‘He received crush injuries, a fractured skull and a broken jaw and spent 11 days in hospital.’
      • ‘But the world featherweight champion knows how to control that anger, how to focus the energy of his rage on the point of an opponent's jaw.’
      • ‘The 28-year-old victim suffered a broken jaw and black eyes, among other injuries.’
      • ‘He suffered burns to his hands and a broken jaw, and lost ‘a considerable amount of blood’.’
      • ‘Perret claimed to have found that his beautiful faces did have something in common: higher cheek bones, a thinner jaw, and larger eyes relative to the size of the face.’
      • ‘It was feared that he may have brain damage and his injuries included broken ribs, a broken jaw, a punctured lung and shattered nerves in his right arm and right leg.’
      • ‘The implant material, made of highly biocompatible titanium, is inserted into the bone of the jaw.’
      • ‘She looked at me straight in the eye, before clutching my jaw and opening my mouth with her index-finger.’
      • ‘In 1992 Gareth was offered the chance to have his jaw reconstructed, using bone from his leg, at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford.’
      • ‘The muscles joining the hyoid bone to the jaw should be relaxed so that the larynx is pulled forward and upwards.’
      • ‘My cousin's jaw dropped and he said ‘how does a bin man know Bill Wyman?’’
      jawbone, lower jaw, mandible
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    2. 1.2jaws The mouth with its bones and teeth.
      • ‘The thick skin, massive strength in the shoulders and neck, and vice grip jaws are there for a reason.’
      • ‘Joshua removed his staff to begin his assault on the beast; the creatures jaws snapped like a vice grip before him.’
      • ‘It was not until the autofocus hit the mark that I noted the jaws of the scorpionfish trapping the poor butterfish.’
      • ‘For one thing, the average WAFR is around the same size as a Labrador, with front teeth some four inches long, and jaws capable of crushing human bone.’
      • ‘The dragon caught up with and snapped his jaws shut, trapping Xio inside.’
      mouth, maw, muzzle, lips
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    3. 1.3jaws The grasping, biting, or crushing mouthparts of an invertebrate.
      • ‘Termites rush to a breach in their nest and clamp their jaws onto the snout of a marauding anteater, almost guaranteeing their own death.’
      • ‘Others, such as the clam worm, are active, mobile predators that capture prey in jaws attached to their pharynges.’
      • ‘The termites use their jaws to turn the woody plant material and soil they bore through into tiny particles that the microbes can process.’
      • ‘The anapsids start out with elongate jaws and rostra, but the entire muzzle becomes progressively shorter across their phylospace.’
      • ‘Scolecodonts are the isolated jaws of polychaete annelid worms.’
      • ‘For an infected ant, when the declining air temperature hits a certain threshold, its jaws become locked in a closed position.’
      • ‘The buccal mass of cephalopods includes a pair of jaws termed beaks that are used to masticate prey.’
      • ‘Whereas arms and legs have more muscles than segments, the jaws and tongues of anurans are composed of relatively few muscles.’
      mouth, maw, muzzle, lips
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    4. 1.4usually jaws The gripping parts of a tool or machine, such as a wrench or vice.
      • ‘We got the guys from the motor pool to weld a gun mount on the outside of the cupola - the brace on my mount was a huge wrench with thee-inch jaws.’
      • ‘The device subject of the patent in issue in that case was a ‘workbench’ which combined a workbench, a saw horse and a vice with elongated jaws.’
      • ‘Make sure the jaws of the wrench or pliers are snug in position before you manipulate the handle, to avoid slippage or scraped knuckles.’
      • ‘Finally, the bucking pipe is gripped by the mechanical jaws of a massive clamp.’
      • ‘Cover the jaws of wrenches or vices with electrician's tape.’
    5. 1.5jaws The grasping or destructive power of something.
      ‘victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat’
      • ‘This adds up to more than 500 million people, who have been saved from the jaws of oppression and dominance.’
      • ‘Indeed, sometimes even a layoff can carry within it the seeds of future success, and you can wrest something positive from the jaws of rejection.’
      • ‘Keighley Town grasped victory from the jaws of defeat thanks to a brilliant last minute individual try from Man of the Match Neil Kennedy.’
      • ‘To our great relief, due to the joint efforts of six doctors who stayed with them in the intensive care unit for a couple of hours, they were ultimately snatched from the jaws of death.’
      • ‘As many as 750 children have been rescued by Vathsalya from the jaws of despair, and perhaps death, some of them only a few months old.’
    6. 1.6jaws An opening likened to a mouth.
      ‘a passenger stepping from the jaws of a car ferry’
      • ‘From the jaws of the ferry in Tårs you are quickly led away from the cars and out through Sandby.’
      • ‘Then we continued on our way, going deeper and deeper into the open jaws of the cave.’
      • ‘The steel jaws of the traps, which will catch any animal or person walking in the bush, are ostensibly for use against jackals but are often used by poachers to trap game.’
      • ‘She pried the trap open with her own arms, slowly the gaping jaws of the trap stood wide open, but she couldn't hold it like that anymore.’
  • 2informal mass noun Talk or gossip, especially when lengthy or tedious.

    ‘committee work is just endless jaw’


[NO OBJECT]informal
  • Talk at length; chatter.

    ‘I was too busy to spend time jawing with the rest of the crew’
    • ‘By the end, they're just something to jaw about by the campfire.’
    • ‘Chesterton once observed that it was always perilous to talk politics with women because of the imminent danger that they would want to do something about it and not just go on jawing as men do.’
    • ‘Most evenings as I'm coming home from work, Steve is out in front of the store, jawing with anyone who'll give him a minute of his or her time, cussing up a storm, flirting with all the women, and exhorting everyone to go in and buy stuff.’
    • ‘I sit here jawing while Pavel enriches the world through his generous work.’
    • ‘Doesn't it strike anyone as odd that we keep jawing away on ‘innocent until proven guilty’ but mainly about the high-flyers?’


  • one's jaw drops

    • One feels or appears amazed or shocked.

      ‘Laurel's jaw dropped despite her attempts to hide her surprise’
      • ‘We head up a rickety flight of stairs, pass through a wooden door, and suddenly my jaw drops open.’
      • ‘While feisty Hawn takes the hacienda-style home in her stride, her jaw drops at the magnificence of the garden.’
      • ‘my jaw drops, cycling over recent conversations I've had with this lady on the phone.’
      • ‘His eyebrows rise in surprise as his jaw drops.’
      • ‘My jaw drops to wide open, and I just stare at her.’
      • ‘Rachmaninov composed his first concerto when he was 18 but, before your jaw drops in amazement, he revised it substantially at 44.’
      • ‘I don't normally experience moments where my jaw drops at something online.’
      • ‘Some moments, my jaw drops, I don't believe what just happened.’
      • ‘Her eyes burst open and her jaw drops, she backs up and away from the circle, breaking her hands free.’
      • ‘When you look at them, your jaw drops like a rock.’


Late Middle English: from Old French joe ‘cheek, jaw’, of unknown origin.