Maw

February 10, 2014

Interesting very old word today.

Word of the Day

maw \maw\, noun:

1. the symbolic or theoretical center of a voracious hunger or appetite of any kind: the ravenous maw of Death.
2. the mouth, throat, or gullet of an animal, especially a carnivorous mammal.
3. a cavernous opening that resembles the open jaws of an animal: the gaping maw of hell.

I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.
— Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 1818

The team of seven had been created to browse and graze through all existing writings, and to make a catalog of all that was swept into the team’s collective maw.
— Simon Winchester, The Professor and the Madman, 1998

Maw comes to us from the Old English maga meaning “stomach.” Its figurative use first appeared in the late 1300s.  Dictionary.com

From the Online Etymology Dictionary–

maw (n.)

Old English maga “stomach” (of men and animals; in Modern English only of animals unless insultingly), from Proto-Germanic *magon “bag, stomach” (cf. Old Frisian maga, Old Norse magi, Danish mave, Middle Dutch maghe, Dutch maag, Old High German mago, German Magen “stomach”), from PIE *mak- “leather bag” (cf. Welsh megin “bellows,” Lithuanian makas, Old Church Slavonic mošina “bag, pouch”). Meaning “throat, gullet” is from 1520s. Metaphoric of voracity from late 14c.

Maw always reminds me of this scene–

Grunewald AnthonyMatthias Gruenewald, The Temptation of St. Anthony

Detail of maws–

Gruenewald Anthony detail

 Next: paw

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