Claws


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Idioms.

Claws

 

horny formations at the ends of the digits of terrestrial vertebrates. In amphibians the claws are thickenings of the horny layer of the epidermis.

True claws are found on the majority of reptiles, all birds, and many mammals; they are used as auxiliary organs during ambulation and as weapons in active defense and attack. Claws are usually horny covers on the ends of the phalanxes of the fingers and toes; the upper side is formed from a hard cornaceous substance (claw layer), and the underside (cushion layer) is soft. The unequal wear of the two layers keeps the claws sharpened.

Claws in mammals are particularly varied: they are sharp and powerful in climbing animals, relatively thin and retractable in felines (weapons of attack), and large and thick in burrowing animals. In swimming animals claws have partially or completely disappeared. In mammals nails and hooves are variations of claws.

References in classic literature ?
I was so faint and weary that I closed with this offer; and taking the money out of his claw, not without trembling, went away more hungry and thirsty than I had ever been, a little before sunset.
Yet it was a sight that might well arrest wandering thoughts: Eppie, with the rippling radiance of her hair and the whiteness of her rounded chin and throat set off by the dark-blue cotton gown, laughing merrily as the kitten held on with her four claws to one shoulder, like a design for a jug-handle, while Snap on the right hand and Puss on the other put up their paws towards a morsel which she held out of the reach of both--Snap occasionally desisting in order to remonstrate with the cat by a cogent worrying growl on the greediness and futility of her conduct; till Eppie relented, caressed them both, and divided the morsel between them.
However, the bird, who had only been stunned, recovering himself gave me so many boxes with his wings, on both sides of my head and body, though I held him at arm's-length, and was out of the reach of his claws, that I was twenty times thinking to let him go.
He read of the swallows that fly in and out of the little cafe at Smyrna where the Hadjis sit counting their amber beads and the turbaned merchants smoke their long tasselled pipes and talk gravely to each other; he read of the Obelisk in the Place de la Concorde that weeps tears of granite in its lonely sunless exile and longs to be back by the hot, lotus-covered Nile, where there are Sphinxes, and rose-red ibises, and white vultures with gilded claws, and crocodiles with small beryl eyes that crawl over the green steaming mud; he began to brood over those verses which, drawing music from kiss-stained marble, tell of that curious statue that Gautier compares to a contralto voice, the "monstre charmant" that couches in the porphyry-room of the Louvre.
Nor could they continue to hold their hands at the level of their eyes: their hands went down to their legs to push back the waves, which were full of little legs and nails and claws and teeth.
How cheerfully he seems to grin, How neatly spread his claws, And welcome little fishes in With gently smiling jaws
And Father Wolf taught him his business, and the meaning of things in the jungle, till every rustle in the grass, every breath of the warm night air, every note of the owls above his head, every scratch of a bat's claws as it roosted for a while in a tree, and every splash of every little fish jumping in a pool meant just as much to him as the work of his office means to a business man.
In a few minutes the roc appeared, and bore me off to the top of the mountain in his huge claws as lightly as if I had been a feather, for this great white bird is so strong that he has been known to carry even an elephant to his nest in the hills.
Then the dragon seized them in his claws, took them through the air over the army, and set them down on the earth a long way from it.
It was a species of the Sterna nilotica, peculiar to Egypt; its beak is black, head grey and pointed, the eye surrounded by white spots, the back, wings, and tail of a greyish colour, the belly and throat white, and claws red.
However, I was too keenly aware of white teeth and strong claws about me to stop my chanting on that account.
Can you imagine a crab as large as yonder table, with its many legs moving slowly and uncertainly, its big claws swaying, its long antennae, like carters' whips, waving and feeling, and its stalked eyes gleaming at you on either side of its metallic front?