gnaw

verb

gnawed; gnawing; gnaws

transitive verb

1
a
: to bite or chew on with the teeth
especially : to wear away by persistent biting or nibbling
a dog gnawing a bone
b
: to make by gnawing
rats gnawed a hole
2
a
: to be a source of vexation to : plague
anxiety always gnawing him
b
: to affect like gnawing
hunger gnawing her vitals
3

intransitive verb

1
: to bite or nibble persistently
gnawing at his underlip
2
: to produce an effect of or as if of gnawing
waves gnawing away at the cliffs
gnawer noun

Examples of gnaw in a Sentence

The dog was gnawing a bone. He nervously gnawed on his fingernails. Rabbits have gnawed at the hedge. Rabbits had gnawed a hole in the hedge.
Recent Examples on the Web Fortunately, there are several ways to ease their discomfort and continue nursing before and after those first few teeth make their debut: Give them something to gnaw on before and after feedings. Donna Murray, Rn, Parents, 16 July 2024 Many residents awoke Sunday to find gnawing new worries about what one of America’s darkest political days will mean for the election, the country and their hometown. Chris Kenning, USA TODAY, 15 July 2024 My mind gnaws on that concept the entire hike down: The Nahanni has followed its course for more than 200 million years. Jayme Moye, Condé Nast Traveler, 8 July 2024 Roaches dead and alive, rodents dead and gnawing and other problems with basic cleanliness and food safety put five restaurants on this week’s Sick and Shut Down List. David J. Neal, Miami Herald, 4 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for gnaw 

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English gnawen, from Old English gnagan; akin to Old High German gnagan to gnaw

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of gnaw was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near gnaw

Cite this Entry

“Gnaw.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gnaw. Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

gnaw

verb
1
a
: to bite or chew with the teeth
especially : to wear away by repeated biting or nibbling
dog gnawing a bone
b
: to make by gnawing
rats gnawed a hole
2
a
: annoy, irritate
worry gnawed at me day and night
b
: to affect like gnawing
gnawing hunger
gnawer noun

More from Merriam-Webster on gnaw

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