"claw of a bird of prey," late 15c., pownse, probably from Old French ponchon "lance, javelin; spine, quill" (Modern French poinçon; see punch (v.)). So called for being the "claws that punch" holes in things. In falconry, the heel claw is a talon, and others are pounces. Hence, "a stab, thrust" (c. 1400). In Middle English also the name of a tool for punching holes or embossing metal (late 14c.), from pounce (v.) in the special sense of "ornament by perforation." Clothing ornamented with cut-out figures was pounced.