- a knotty protuberance on a tree; knot.
- to twist into a knotted or distorted form.
Origin of gnarl1
First recorded in 1805–15; back formation from gnarled
SynonymsSee more synonyms for gnarl on Thesaurus.com
2. contort, distort.
- to growl; snarl.
Origin of gnarl2
First recorded in 1585–95; variant of gnar
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for gnarling
Rest assured I shall have my eye upon the gnarling scoundrels.Rookwood
William Harrison Ainsworth
Gnarling sorrow hath less power to bite / The man that mocks at it and sets it light.
- any knotty protuberance or swelling on a tree
- (tr) to knot or cause to knot
C19: back formation from gnarled, probably variant of knurled; see knurl
- (intr) obsolete to growl or snarl
C16: of imitative origin
Word Origin and History for gnarling
"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).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper