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verb (1)

gnarled; gnarling; gnarls

intransitive verb

: snarl, growl
… and wolves are gnarling who shall gnaw thee first.William Shakespeare
A wayward leopard gnarls at onlookers at a house in Kuleshwar, Kathmandu …Online Khabar


2 of 3

verb (2)

gnarled; gnarling; gnarls

transitive verb

: to twist into a state of deformity


3 of 3


: a hard protuberance with twisted grain on a tree

Examples of gnarl in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Olive trees, gnarled and bent, which have lived here for more than a thousand years, still produce olive cultivars like Coratina, Peranzana and Ogliarola. Clive Pursehouse, Outside Online, 21 Feb. 2023 Multiple near-fatal heart attacks had gnarled his hands, creased his craggy face with wrinkles and yellowed his eyes. Jason Zweig, WSJ, 18 Jan. 2019 Every awards show, us Allure staffers are scrambling to cover all the hair and makeup looks, corresponding with makeup artists, endlessly scouring social media for BTS footage, and typing until our little fingers are gnarled. Sable Yong, Allure, 17 Sep. 2018 Ribs that are roasted start to finish in an oven usually come out gnarled and dry. Julia Moskin, New York Times, 9 July 2018 Designed with sandstone and earth tones, the walls showcase works by contemporary Native American artists including Dan Namingha and Doug Coffin, while touches like gnarled wrought iron lamps appear throughout. Condé Nast Traveler, 20 Oct. 2017
Katchske showed me a piece, holding a brownish-black gnarl in his palm. Leah Sottile, Longreads, 15 July 2019 Country-style ribs, on the other hand, have considerably less fat and gnarl than the butt and come in neat pieces that are easily sliced up. John Willoughby, charlotteobserver, 16 Jan. 2018 All of the food was either surplus from wholesalers or farms, or had cosmetic imperfections, such as nicks and gnarls, that grocers won’t tolerate. National Geographic, 10 May 2016

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gnarl.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb (1)

probably frequentative of gnar

Verb (2)

back-formation from gnarled

First Known Use

Verb (1)

1596, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

1814, in the meaning defined above


1805, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gnarl was in 1596

Dictionary Entries Near gnarl

Cite this Entry

“Gnarl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a large or hard knot in wood or on a tree
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