Open main menu

Wiktionary β




From earlier chawe (jaw). More at jaw. See also chew.



chaw (plural chaws)

  1. (informal, uncountable) Chewing tobacco.
    When the doctor told him to quit smoking, Harvey switched to chaw, but then developed cancer of the mouth.
  2. (countable) A plug or wad of chewing tobacco.
    • 1889, Mark Twain, chapter 21, in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:
      "YOU give him a chaw, did you? So did your sister's cat's grandmother. You pay me back the chaws you've awready borry'd off'n me, Lafe Buckner, then I'll loan you one or two ton of it, and won't charge you no back intrust, nuther."
    • 1970, Donald Harington, Lightning Bug:
      He […] went into the store and behind the counter and reached up and got the plug of chewing tobacco and unwrapped it and bit off a chaw.
  3. (obsolete) The jaw.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Edmund Spenser to this entry?)


chaw (third-person singular simple present chaws, present participle chawing, simple past and past participle chawed)

  1. (archaic or nonstandard) To chew; to grind with one's teeth; to masticate (food, or the cud); to champ (at the bit).
    • c. 1540, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, Translations from the Æneid, Book 4, in The Poems of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1920, p. 130,[1]
      The trampling steede, with gold and purple trapt,
      Chawing the fomie bit, there fercely stood.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto Four, stanza 30, Indianapolis: Hackett, 2006, p. 62,
      And next to him malicious Envy rode,
      Upon a ravenous wolfe, and still did chaw
      Betweene his cankred teeth a venemous tode []
    • 1682, John Dryden, The Medall. A Satyre against Sedition, lines 145-8,[2]
      The Man who laugh'd but once, to see an Ass
      Mumbling to make the cross-grained Thistles pass,
      Might laugh again, to see a Jury chaw
      The prickles of unpalatable Law.
    • 1884, Mark Twain, chapter 29, in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:
      [] the king he set down and twisted his head to one side, and chawed his tongue, and scrawled off something []
    • 1942, Emily Carr, The Book of Small, “The Orange Lily,”[3]
      Anne passed the lily. Beyond was the bed of pinks—white, clove, cinnamon. [] Anne's scissors chawed the wiry stems almost as sapless as the everlastings.
  2. To ruminate in thought; to consider; to keep the mind working upon; to brood over.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Book II, Canto Four, stanza 29, Indianapolis: Hackett, 2006, p. 62,
      "I home retourning, fraught with fowle despight,
      And chawing vengeaunce all the way I went,
      Soone as my loathed love appeard in sight,
      With wrathfull hand I slew her innocent;
  3. (Britain, slang) To steal.
    Some pikey's chawed my bike.