verb (used with object)
- to crush or grind with the teeth; masticate.
- to crush, damage, injure, etc., as if by chewing (often followed by up): The faulty paper feeder chewed the letters up.
- to make by or as if by chewing: The puppy chewed a hole in my slipper.
- to meditate on; consider deliberately (often followed by over): He chewed the problem over in his mind.
verb (used without object)
- to perform the act of crushing or grinding with the teeth.
- Informal. to chew tobacco.
- to meditate.
- an act or instance of chewing.
- something chewed or intended for chewing: a chew of tobacco; taffy chews.
- chew out, Slang. to scold harshly: The sergeant chewed out the recruits.
- chew the fat, Informal. to converse at length in a relaxed manner; chat: They liked to sit around chewing the fat.Also chew the rag.
- (tr, adverb) informal, mainly US and Canadian to reprimand
- to work the jaws and teeth in order to grind (food); masticate
- to bite repeatedlyshe chewed her nails anxiously
- (intr) to use chewing tobacco
- chew the fat or chew the rag slang
- to argue over a point
- to talk idly; gossip
- the act of chewing
- something that is cheweda chew of tobacco
Old English ceowan “to bite, gnaw, chew,” from West Germanic *keuwwan (cf. Middle Low German keuwen, Dutch kauwen, Old High German kiuwan, German kauen), from PIE root *gyeu- “to chew” (cf. Old Church Slavonic živo “to chew,” Lithuanian žiaunos “jaws,” Persian javidan “to chew”).
Figurative sense of “to think over” is from late 14c.; to chew the rag “discusss some matter” is from 1885, apparently originally British army slang. Related: Chewed; chewing. To chew (someone) out (1948) probably is military slang from World War II. Chewing gum is by 1843, American English, originally hardened secretions of the spruce tree.
c.1200, “an act of chewing,” from chew (v.). Meaning “wad of tobacco chewed at one time” is from 1725; as a kind of chewy candy, by 1906.
Scold harshly, as in Dad will chew you out for taking the car without permission. Originating in the military, this slangy term began to be used during World War I and soon spread to civilian life. Several vulgar versions, such as chew someone’s ass out, should be avoided in polite speech. Also see eat out, def. 2.
In addition to the idioms beginning with chew
- chew out
- chew the cud
- chew the fat
- bite off more than one can chew