Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[naw-ing] /ˈnɔ ɪŋ/
the act of a person or thing that gnaws.
Usually, gnawings. persistent, dull pains; pangs:
the gnawings of hunger.
Origin of gnawing
Middle English word dating back to 1300-50; See origin at gnaw, -ing1
Related forms
gnawingly, adverb


[naw] /nɔ/
verb (used with object), gnawed, gnawed or gnawn, gnawing.
to bite or chew on, especially persistently.
to wear away or remove by persistent biting or nibbling.
to form or make by so doing:
to gnaw a hole through the wall.
to waste or wear away; corrode; erode.
to trouble or torment by constant annoyance, worry, etc.; vex; plague.
verb (used without object), gnawed, gnawed or gnawn, gnawing.
to bite or chew persistently:
The spaniel gnawed happily on a bone.
to cause corrosion:
The acid gnaws at the metal.
to cause an effect resembling corrosion:
Her mistake gnawed at her conscience.
before 1000; Middle English gnawen, Old English gnagen; cognate with German nagen, Old Norse gnāga
Related forms
gnawable, adjective
gnawer, noun
outgnaw, verb (used with object), outgnawed, outgnawed or outgnawn, outgnawing.
undergnaw, verb (used with object)
ungnawed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for gnawing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Deep in his heart was a gnawing of envy—not for himself, but for his work.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • They've been drifted away into one of the deepest holes there is, and the rats have been gnawing at 'em.

    Henry Dunbar M. E. Braddon
  • He was looking down, and gnawing at that tremulous upper lip.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede George MacDonald
  • It put a name to that gnawing, indefinite feeling she had been too intent to own.

    The Innocent Adventuress Mary Hastings Bradley
  • Then came remembrance, and it was far worse than the fangs of pain that were gnawing him.

    Raiders Invisible Desmond Winter Hall
  • Some fearful secret must be gnawing at the big man's vitals.

    Wanderer of Infinity Harl Vincent
  • Nothing but this and the cheep-cheep of a mouse that was gnawing the wood somewhere in the floor.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
British Dictionary definitions for gnawing


verb gnaws, gnawing, gnawed, gnawed, gnawn (nɔːn)
when intr, often foll by at or upon. to bite (at) or chew (upon) constantly so as to wear away little by little
(transitive) to form by gnawing: to gnaw a hole
to cause erosion of (something)
when intr, often foll by at. to cause constant distress or anxiety (to)
the act or an instance of gnawing
Derived Forms
gnawable, adjective
gnawer, noun
gnawing, adjective, noun
gnawingly, adverb
Word Origin
Old English gnagan; related to Old Norse gnaga, Old High German gnagan
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for gnawing



Old English gnagan (past tense *gnog, past participle gnagan) "to gnaw," a common Germanic word (cf. Old Saxon gnagan, Old Norse, Swedish gnaga, Middle Dutch, Dutch knagen, Old High German gnagan, German nagen "to gnaw"), probably imitative of gnawing. Related: Gnawed; gnawing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for gnawing

Word Value for gnawing

Scrabble Words With Friends