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Dew Claw

Anyone know the origin of the term ‘dew claw’ in referring to the extra claw on a dog’s leg?

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According to the (online) 1911 edition of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, "The origin of the word is unknown, but it has been fancifully suggested that, while the other toes touch the ground in walking, the dew-claw merely brushes the dew from the grass."

Other sources say it's unknown, but may be from "toe."

Knowing the practical nature of the ancients in coming up with words for things, I looked up the derivation of "thumb" on a hunch and found the Indo-european root "teu-" so maybe I'm on to something.

speedwell2 January 24, 2005, 4:09am

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Sorry about the hasty nature of the previous post... Speedwell posts from work and accidentally hit "send" while the boss was dictating an e-mail. I'll leave the grammar correction as an practice exercise. (heh)

speedwell2 January 24, 2005, 4:12am

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Is Speedwell still around? Or has anyone any ideas, including the Indo-European root 'teu', as the origin of the 'dew' in dew claws?

geoff February 8, 2007, 7:51am

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