Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
c.1400, talounz "claws of a bird or beast," probably originally from Old French talon "heel or hinder part of the foot of a beast, or of a man, or of a shoe," from Medieval Latin talonem "heel," from Latin talus "ankle" (see talus (1)). "The extension to birds of prey, and subsequent stages, are peculiar to English" [OED].
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.