a sharp, usually curved, nail on the foot of an animal, as on a cat, dog, or bird.
a similar curved process at the end of the leg of an insect.
the pincerlike extremity of specific limbs of certain arthropods: lobster claws.
any part or thing resembling a claw, as the cleft end of the head of a hammer.
Typography. the hooklike projection from the right side of an r or from the bowl of a g.
(in a motion-picture mechanism) a device having one or two teeth that hook into the perforations of a length of film and move it one frame at a time at any given speed.
Jewelry. one of a group of slender, tapering metal projections rising from the base of a jewelry setting, used to hold a transparent or faceted gemstone in position. Compare prong ( def 4 ).
verb (used with object)
to tear, scratch, seize, pull, etc., with or as if with claws: The kitten clawed my sweater to shreds.
to make by or as if by scratching, digging, etc., with hands or claws: to claw a hole in the earth.
to proceed by or as if by using the hands: He clawed his way through the crowd.
verb (used without object)
to scratch, tear, or dig with or as if with claws: The cat clawed and hissed in fear.
to make fumbling motions: He clawed at the door. She clawed for the light switch.
Scot. to scratch gently, as to relieve itching.

before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English clawu; cognate with Old High German chlō(a), akin to Dutch klauw, German Klaue; (v.) Middle English clawen, Old English claw(i)an, derivative of clawu (noun); akin to Dutch klauwen, German klauen

clawer, noun
clawless, adjective
declaw, verb (used with object)

clause, claws. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
claw (klɔː)
1.  a curved pointed horny process on the end of each digit in birds, some reptiles, and certain mammals
2.  a corresponding structure in some invertebrates, such as the pincer of a crab
3.  a part or member like a claw in function or appearance
4.  botany the narrow basal part of certain petals and sepals
5.  to scrape, tear, or dig (something or someone) with claws, etc
6.  (tr) to create by scratching as with claws: to claw an opening
[Old English clawu; related to Old High German kluwi, Sanskrit glau- ball, sphere]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. clawu, from P.Gmc. *klawo, from PIE *g(e)l-eu- from base *gel- "to make round, clench." The verb is from O.E. clawian.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
claw   (klô)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. A sharp, curved nail at the end of a toe of a mammal, reptile, or bird.

  2. A pincer, as of a lobster or crab, used for grasping.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


narrow, arched structure that curves downward from the end of the digit in birds, reptiles, many mammals, and some amphibians. It is a hardened (keratinized) modification of the epidermis. Claws may be adapted for scratching, clutching, digging, or climbing. By analogy, the appendages of other lower animals are frequently called claws. The claw's shape is ordinarily suited to the food-getting habit of the animal. Eagles have long, curved talons for grasping prey; the claws of chickens are short and sturdy, for scratching the ground for food.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Each claw ended with a sharp point ideally suited for digging into the flesh of
Make a cut at small end of each cutlet, and insert in each the tip end of a
  small claw.
Use tail meat, divided in fourths, and large pieces of claw meat.
Refill tail, body, and under half of large claw shells.
Images for claw
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