jaw (n.)

late 14c., jowe, joue, "the bones of the mouth," "A word of difficult etymology" [OED]. Probably from Old French joue "cheek," originally jode, from Gallo-Romance *gauta or directly from Gaulish *gabata, but there are phonetic problems; or perhaps a variant of Germanic words related to chew (v.); compare also the two nouns jowl. Replaced Old English ceace, ceafl. Jaws as "holding and gripping part of an appliance" is from mid-15c.; figuratively, of time, death, defeat, etc., from 1560s.

jaw (v.)

1610s, "to catch in the jaws, devour," from jaw (n.). In slang from 1748, "to gossip, to speak;" 1810 as "to scold." Related: Jawed; jawing. Hence 19c. U.S. slang jawsmith "talkative person; loud-mouthed demagogue" (1887), nautical slang jaw-tackle "the mouth" (1829), and the back-formed colloquial noun jaw "rude talk, abusive clamor" (1748).

updated on February 12, 2016