- 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.
- 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.
Origin of gnaw
Related Words for gnawnibble, eat, chomp, annoy, bedevil, nag, irritate, haunt, crunch, erode, consume, munch, gum, corrode, devour, masticate, wear, champ, chaw, distress
Examples from the Web for gnaw
Contemporary Examples of gnaw
In the end, the ethical implications of using a drug to pull statements from otherwise unwilling people began to gnaw.Would Truth Serum Work on James Holmes in the Aurora Shooting Trial?
March 14, 2013
Stanley Crouch on why there are so many predators “looking for some high-profile black female meat to give the gnaw.”Michelle vs. the All-American Jackass
March 25, 2009
Historical Examples of gnaw
The dogs had devoured even the entrails of the seal, and began to gnaw their traces.The Field of Ice
The dog was unable to gnaw through the leather at his own end of the stick.White Fang
Sam watched her go to the house, and doubts began to gnaw at him.The Odyssey of Sam Meecham
Charles E. Fritch
I attempted to gnaw through the wires, but they resisted my utmost efforts.The Rambles of a Rat
A. L. O. E.
They burrowed under the snow until they could gnaw them, and thus they released us.The Young Treasure Hunter
Frank V. Webster
- (when intr, often foll by at or upon) to bite (at) or chew (upon) constantly so as to wear away little by little
- (tr) to form by gnawingto 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
Word Origin for gnaw
Word Origin and History for gnaw
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.