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[choo] /tʃu/
verb (used with object)
to crush or grind with the teeth; masticate.
to crush, damage, injure, etc., as if by chewing (often followed by up):
The faulty paper feeder chewed the letters up.
to make by or as if by chewing:
The puppy chewed a hole in my slipper.
to meditate on; consider deliberately (often followed by over):
He chewed the problem over in his mind.
verb (used without object)
to perform the act of crushing or grinding with the teeth.
Informal. to chew tobacco.
to meditate.
an act or instance of chewing.
something chewed or intended for chewing:
a chew of tobacco; taffy chews.
Verb phrases
chew out, Slang. to scold harshly:
The sergeant chewed out the recruits.
chew the fat, Informal. to converse at length in a relaxed manner; chat:
They liked to sit around chewing the fat.
Also, chew the rag.
Origin of chew
before 1000; Middle English chewen, Old English cēowan; cognate with Old High German kiuwan (German kauen)
Related forms
chewer, noun
unchewed, adjective
well-chewed, adjective
Can be confused
chews, choose. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for chew
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If you shay it different, I'll chew your head like an apple caught in the crack of a door.

    The Little Clay Cart (Attributed To) King Shudraka
  • You mean that she did not—did not find your friend Bob something to chew upon?

    The Innocent Adventuress Mary Hastings Bradley
  • At first, most persons dislike to chew it, but use soon renders it far from disagreeable.

    The Ladies' Vase An American Lady
  • He took a chew of tobacco and prepared to give his best attention.

    The Night Riders Ridgwell Cullum
  • How should she know that it was unable to chew, and was in the habit of swallowing buttons, beads, and other small articles whole?

British Dictionary definitions for chew


to work the jaws and teeth in order to grind (food); masticate
to bite repeatedly: she chewed her nails anxiously
(intransitive) to use chewing tobacco
(slang) chew the fat, chew the rag
  1. to argue over a point
  2. to talk idly; gossip
the act of chewing
something that is chewed: a chew of tobacco
Derived Forms
chewable, adjective
chewer, noun
Word Origin
Old English ceowan; related to Old High German kiuwan, Dutch kauwen, Latin gingīva a gum
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for chew

Old English ceowan "to bite, gnaw, chew," from West Germanic *keuwwan (cf. Middle Low German keuwen, Dutch kauwen, Old High German kiuwan, German kauen), from PIE root *gyeu- "to chew" (cf. Old Church Slavonic živo "to chew," Lithuanian žiaunos "jaws," Persian javidan "to chew").

Figurative sense of "to think over" is from late 14c.; to chew the rag "discusss some matter" is from 1885, apparently originally British army slang. Related: Chewed; chewing. To chew (someone) out (1948) probably is military slang from World War II. Chewing gum is by 1843, American English, originally hardened secretions of the spruce tree.


c.1200, "an act of chewing," from chew (v.). Meaning "wad of tobacco chewed at one time" is from 1725; as a kind of chewy candy, by 1906.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for chew



: He had big chew in his cheek (1920s+)


  1. To chew tobacco (1930s+)
  2. To eat (1890+)
  3. (also chew over) To talk; converse; discuss; jaw: We got together to chew about the election/ Drop up and chew it over (1890s+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with chew
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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