- (of trees) full of or covered with gnarls; bent; twisted.
- having a rugged, weather-beaten appearance: a gnarled old sea captain.
- crabby; cantankerous.
Origin of gnarled
- a knotty protuberance on a tree; knot.
- to twist into a knotted or distorted form.
Origin of gnarl1
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- to growl; snarl.
Origin of gnarl2
Examples from the Web for gnarled
I was taken into one by Maurice, a gnarled old Vietnam vet in a wooly hat.Here’s a Reform Even the Koch Brothers and George Soros Can Agree On
November 10, 2014
Hard-caught game gets something feral and gnarled—Côte-Rôtie or a leathery Hermitage.The Queen of the French Kitchen
March 26, 2014
The knots were so plentiful that the thread stood up like a gnarled flagpole.'Are You Also With Fever?'
Dr. Abraham Verghese
February 11, 2009
The young who are not gnarled and knocked around by the old fights are tired of the overtones of special pleading.Will Secretary of State Be Enough for Hillary’s Army?
November 18, 2008
He had limbs of great length, and muscles like the gnarled heads of a beech.The Shadow of a Crime
Gnarled cedars, hanging precariously, might hide pixies and elves.The White Invaders
Raymond King Cummings
So that the more knotted and gnarled a log of mahogany is, the better.Forests of Maine
Jacob S. Abbott
She got up out of the hay, and put out a gnarled brown hand for it.The Lowest Rung
Even from the path he saw extending from the heap an arm, a gnarled hand.Mountain Blood
- having gnarls
- (esp of hands) rough, twisted, and weather-beaten in appearance
- perverse or ill-tempered
- any knotty protuberance or swelling on a tree
- (tr) to knot or cause to knot
- (intr) obsolete to growl or snarl
Word Origin and History for gnarled
the source of the group of words that includes gnarl (v.), gnarl (n.), gnarly is Shakespeare's use of gnarled in 1603:
Thy sharpe and sulpherous bolt Splits the vn-wedgable and gnarled Oke. ["Measure for Measure," II.ii.116]
OED and Barnhart call it a variant of knurled, from Middle English knar "knot in wood" (late 14c.), originally "a rock, a stone;" of uncertain origin. "(Gnarled) occurs in one passage of Shakes. (for which the sole authority is the folio of 1623), whence it came into general use in the nineteenth century" [OED].
"contort, twist," 1814, a back-formation from gnarled. As a noun from 1824. Earlier the verb was used in a sense of "to snarl" (1590s).