Definition of claw in English:

claw

noun

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

    • ‘The Cape clawless otter derives its name from the fact that there are no claws on the digits.’
    • ‘A bird's claw was gripping the end of the hilt.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Lured into a folk chemist, I ducked beneath lizard claws and snake skins, dodged the birds' feet and goat horns.’
    • ‘Stalls sold everything from dried lizards and birds' claws to spanners, nails and toothpaste.’
    • ‘Yet these earlier birds did not possess claws on their wings or teeth in their beaks.’
    • ‘Without glue, suction, or claws, these lizards scamper up walls and hang from ceilings.’
    • ‘But those don't look like cat claw marks.’
    • ‘In mammals, alpha-keratin is found in hair, bristles, hooves, nails, and claws as well as in soft skin.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was also presented with a special ceremonial stick with a real eagle's claw attached.’
    • ‘They have 5 digits, each with long and sharp claws, the third claw being especially well developed.’
    • ‘The creature's claws were as curved like scythes, and as long as long swords.’
    • ‘His hands are the same, long, clever fingers, five of them, with webbing stretched between and ending in wicked, slightly curved, claws.’
    • ‘All digits have claws, which are not large but are very sharp.’
    • ‘The unguals are curved and taper to a sharp point, indicating that the digits terminated in distinct claws.’
    • ‘Birds that cling to and climb the sides of trees, like woodpeckers and nuthatches, have strongly curved claws.’
    • ‘His tail was wrapped around the pipe to hold himself steady and his claws were curved and elongated to hold him fast.’
    • ‘The limbs are only moderately long, and the feet are narrow, with four main digits and short claws.’
    nail, talon
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Either of a pair of small hooked appendages on an insect's leg.
      • ‘Since the claw flexor muscle in insects has no antagonist, claws and arolium are moved back by elastic recoil of stretched exocuticle.’
      • ‘To hold on, insects, including ants, rely on small claws or on sticky foot secretions.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2 The pincer of a crab, scorpion, or other arthropod.
      • ‘Before picking up a crab, we detached attached males by carefully pushing their claws off the females' terminal spines.’
      • ‘In some chelicerates, such as scorpions and some eurypterids, the pedipalps are modified into large claws.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The fiery broth is overflowing with tender calamari, a crab claw, shrimp, chunks of fish and one impeccable scallop.’
      • ‘The male fiddler crab bangs territorial warnings into the sand with its oversized claw.’
      • ‘Male fiddler crabs have one claw much larger than the other, which they use to signal to each other.’
      • ‘We scramble between fishing rods, cameras and delicious crab claws, reluctant to sacrifice any of the three.’
      • ‘Six large white and pink peeled crab claws were placed on the plate, basted with oil that made them shiny and enticing.’
      • ‘The smoker returned in time for the special starter of fresh crab meat with crab claws.’
      • ‘They look like scorpions without tail or claws, and they live from animals' droppings.’
      • ‘Top with the meat of one lobster claw and knuckle and half of one lobster tail.’
      • ‘Please find attached two pictures that I took of a crab with four pincers on the one claw.’
      • ‘Other starters included crispy potato skins with bacon and cheddar, Caesar salad, New Zealand mussels, crab claws and chowder.’
      • ‘But then Johnson saw the red claw and other characteristics of female crabs.’
      • ‘Season the lobster claws and sauté on both sides until warmed through, about three minutes.’
      • ‘Add the crab claws and the remaining spring onions, stir well and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.’
      • ‘In some species, large males may use their major claw to kill smaller crabs.’
      • ‘The lamb is divine, and the feast includes crab claws, soup, homemade scones and rhubarb tart.’
      • ‘For starters, we were unable to resist the crab claws with prawn meat stuffing - pricey at £5, but they sounded delicious.’
      pincer, nipper
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 A mechanical device resembling a claw, used for gripping or lifting.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They resembled green humanoid lizards, except for the black bodysuits and mechanical claws.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It took the huge mechanical claw of a giant bulldozer just 35 minutes to crush it to a pile of dust.’

verb

  • 1no 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’
    with object ‘her hands clawed his shoulders’
    figurative ‘bitter jealousy clawed at her’
    • ‘I recall a vivid childhood dream of being trapped in a tiny house with a werewolf clawing at the windows and doors.’
    • ‘I'm thinking of starting a sweepstake on how long it'll be before the cats start clawing at them and bring one down.’
    • ‘His fingers were clawing at my arms as he tried to get away.’
    • ‘He follows me around, cooing and clawing at me, begging for attention.’
    • ‘She became hysterical: screaming, clawing at her face, pulling at her hair.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Hours after the quake rocked central and southern Italy, rescue teams were clawing at the concrete in the search for survivors.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘She pounced on the man's back, ripping and clawing away at him.’
    • ‘She should be clawing at him with her verbal jabs.’
    • ‘I kept on yelling, while scratching and clawing at something in my back.’
    • ‘Say your cat is clawing your couch or your dog is chewing your leather shoe.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His free hand scrabbled desperately around, and he began clawing at his attacker.’
    • ‘She reached up to claw out his eyes, and he caught her other wrist.’
    • ‘It's just that all the little things that I never used to worry about are now clawing at my mind, and my heart.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She fell to her knees gasping for air, her hands clawing at her throat.’
      • ‘His fingers were clawing at my arms as he tried to get away.’
      • ‘In several places we each went sprawling, clawing at tufts of dead grass to stop from cartwheeling down the mountain.’
      • ‘Every time I closed my eyes I saw that man clawing at his throat.’
      • ‘I viciously clawed at his clothing, almost ripping his favorite shirt.’
      • ‘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 slowly clawed at the rope, eventually getting him out.’
      • ‘Beads of sweat formed on his brow, and he began clawing at his chest.’
      • ‘Her fingernails clawed at the rock, straining to keep hold against the vehement wind.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the beginning there was darkness and fingers clawing at loose debris on the ground.’
      • ‘He shut his eyes, fingers clawing at the rock below him.’
      • ‘Her arms were spread and arched behind her back, her fingers clawing at the air as if she were trying to slow herself down.’
      • ‘He threw himself back in suffocating agony and began to claw desperately at his throat.’
      • ‘Searching, Alex frantically clawed at the strong arm that possessed her, looking for an escape amidst chaos.’
      • ‘But I still have that feeling of suffocation, that my lungs are clawing at the air for a breath.’
      • ‘Tim started yelling about extra innings, waving the bat around and clawing at the charred beams above the furnace.’
      • ‘Gasping, clawing at the empty air, she sunk to the ground.’
      • ‘I make angry pain noises, clawing at her unyielding fingers in agony.’
      reach for, snatch at, make a grab for, catch at, claw at
      View synonyms
    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’
      • ‘So I crawled, dragging myself over the ground, clawing my way forward because I couldn't bring myself to give up.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Robinson was moving right across his goalline but stretched back and clawed the ball away.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But he acrobatically clawed the shot away only for the rebound to be slapped over the line.’
  • 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.

      • ‘Girl, if you don't get your claws into him soon, someone else will.’
      • ‘Most of the girls in the class looked as if they planned to get their claws into him already.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Once she's got her claws into a man he's usually putty in her hands.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That's Sam out there, and she's got her claws into him.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • claw something back

    • (of a government) recover money disbursed in the form of an allowance or benefit, typically by taxation.

      • ‘But again this will be clawed back sharply for all but the lowest earners.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The silence from high-street tills could prove deafening as that cash is clawed back.’
      • ‘Tax cuts can be clawed back, but spending can't so easily.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

claw

/klô//klɔ/