Definition of maw in English:



  • 1The jaws or throat of a voracious animal.

    ‘a gigantic wolfhound with a fearful, gaping maw’
    • ‘The stores that faced out into the streets did so with wide, gaping maws created by the shattered state of their glass windows.’
    • ‘Slowly, its lower jaw dropped until its mouth was an impossible maw, a gaping hole that defied definition.’
    • ‘Man has no hope for salvation, only a chance for dignity, gained by absurdly carrying on in the face of the yawning maw of the meaningless abyss.’
    • ‘So the new year has dawned, and as regular as the first shark attack of summer, the private health funds have opened their insatiable maws ready to engulf us.’
    • ‘Others present gaping maws surrounded by rows of shell-like tubes from which little tongues seem to project.’
    • ‘Some chunks of the concrete even lay on the ground below gaping maws where they used to reside.’
    • ‘The four-foot long furry slug raised itself up around her shoulders and a cavernous maw gaped at me.’
    • ‘When she opened her eyes, a large, gaping maw of a cave awaited them.’
    • ‘His mouth was stretched like the maw of a serpent.’
    • ‘Ahead, I could just make out the maw of the next dreaded tunnel.’
    • ‘We have allowed a bureaucratic monster to emerge from the maws of politically appointed health boards and vested interests.’
    • ‘Here we stand, blinking and afraid, peering into the humid maw of 2004.’
    • ‘This particular one now being full, he carefully sealed the lid and readjusted his belt so that the maw of an empty jar gaped up at him.’
    • ‘During waking hours she's fielding phone calls every weekend, eager to feed the greedy maw of celebrity gossip.’
    • ‘The cash bribe is rarely encountered in this hard-up hobby where every spare penny goes to the ever-open maw of the Post Office.’
    • ‘The brothers promptly swiped the exclusive license from the gaping maws of nearly a dozen major competitors.’
    • ‘Worse yet, in the 1600s Spaniards lowered themselves into the coughing maw, thinking it contained gold.’
    • ‘A guerrilla soldier clung stubbornly to our clothesline pole, his foot trapped in the maw of my father's security dog, a Ridgeback.’
    • ‘This may simply reflect who expects to be the likely winners and losers from tossing homeowners into the maw of local political processes.’
    • ‘Character after character gets vacuumed up by the camera-hogging alien, all of whom shriek and flail as they disappear into its oversized maw.’
    1. 1.1informal The mouth or gullet of a greedy person.
      ‘I was cramming large pieces of toast and cheese down my maw’
      • ‘I'm the last man on earth to suggest you should stay home and shovel squash into a toothless maw just because that's the thing you're supposed to do.’
      • ‘However, decay is an inevitable consequence of life and even though we taxpayers heave a collective shudder at the thought of strange men rooting around in the maws of our leaders, we have to accept that they, too, are human.’
      • ‘No posting until I've shoveled some antibiotics into my maw.’
      • ‘I'm going to jam every bit of everything offered into my greedy maw until my curiosity is assuaged.’
      mouth, jaws, muzzle, throat, gullet
      View synonyms


Old English maga (in the sense ‘stomach’), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch maag and German Magen ‘stomach’.