gnat

[nat]
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noun
  1. any of certain small flies, especially the biting gnats or punkies of the family Ceratopogonidae, the midges of the family Chironomidae, and the black flies of the family Simuliidae.
  2. British. mosquito.
Idioms
  1. strain at a gnat and swallow a camel, to fuss about trifles while ignoring more serious matters.

Origin of gnat

before 900; Middle English; Old English gnæt(t); cognate with German (dial.) Gnatze
Related formsgnat·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


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British Dictionary definitions for gnat

gnat

noun
  1. any of various small fragile biting dipterous insects of the suborder Nematocera, esp Culex pipiens (common gnat), which abounds near stagnant water
Derived Formsgnatlike, adjective

Word Origin for gnat

Old English gnætt; related to Middle High German gnaz scurf, German dialect Gnitze gnat
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

Word Origin and History for gnat
n.

Old English gnætt "gnat, midge, mosquito," earlier gneat, used of various small, flying insects, from Proto-Germanic *gnattaz (cf. Low German gnatte, German Gnitze); perhaps literally "biting insect" and related to gnaw.

The gnatte is a litil fflye, and hatte culex..he soukeþ blood and haþ in his mouþ a pipe, as hit were a pricke..And is a-countid a-mong volatiles..and greueþ slepinge men wiþ noyse & wiþ bytinge and wakeþ hem of here reste. [John of Trevisa, transl. of Bartholomew de Glanville's "De proprietatibus rerum," 1398]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

gnat in Medicine

gnat

[năt]
n.
  1. Any of various small, biting, two-winged flies, such as a biting midge or black fly.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.