he clawed to the top

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I heard "at the age of 19 he clawed to the top of an 18-foot fence" the context is that of an illegal immigrant climbing over the Mexico-US border fence in the 1980's. Does it make sense with the verb "clawed" because it really sounds like "clawed" not like "climbed" , unless there is another verb that sounds pretty much like clawed that would mean "climb"...
Your help is welcome, many thanks in advance
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Clawed is absolutely fine. It is almost always used metaphorically when describing climbing or some other arduous journey (here its use may be literal), and in the literal sense it means using your hands as claws to grip on whatever purchase you are able to. The wordreference.com dictionary lists two similar definitions:
    5. to proceed by or as if by using the hands or claws:
    They clawed their way through the jungle.
    6. to struggle against difficult odds:
    She clawed her way to the top


    Senior Member
    English - England
    "at the age of 19 he clawed his way to the top of an 18-foot fence" is the usual expression and, if you look at Uncle Jack's answer, you will see that version is used in both examples.
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