gnaw

verb
\ ˈnȯ \
gnawed; gnawing; gnaws

Definition of gnaw

transitive verb

1a : 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
2a : to be a source of vexation to : plague anxiety always gnawing him
b : to affect like gnawing hunger gnawing her vitals
3 : erode, corrode

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

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Other Words from gnaw

gnawer \ ˈnȯ(-​ə)r \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Photo: hannah mckay/Reuters What might gnaw at City is the fact that, for all of its ambition, a different Premier League club has come even closer to lifting the trophy. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "A New-Look Real Madrid Shoots for Four Champions League Titles in a Row," 18 Sep. 2018 Still, the rare rat case gnaws at the lingering questions of hepatitis E that Meng and other infectious disease trackers have chipped away at for several decades. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Rat hepatitis jumps to human for first time, spotlighting disease mystery," 2 Oct. 2018 Throughout the night, fans who had waited so long relished much of the game, all the while with a pit of gnawing anxiety. Lomi Kriel, Houston Chronicle, "Unhappy ending for Rockets, fans after Game 7 loss," 28 May 2018 That specific, gnawing feeling of personal failure and profound loss. Natalie Lampert, Marie Claire, "Why Women Reeling From Miscarriage Are Turning to the Web," 1 Oct. 2018 There was talk of crudely gnawed-upon limbs and faces missing eyes, noses, livers, shreds of skin barely hanging on to some clavicle kicked away by anxious scavengers. Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com, "Algren Award runner-up: "Fluid Mechanics" by Mabel Yu," 2 June 2018 For the village, that means the dam that the tree-gnawing mammals had built in a stream behind the Mukwonago YMCA can be removed. Jim Riccioli, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Mukwonago finds new homes for beavers that diverted water," 16 May 2018 As the research above shows, a child carries that sense of powerlessness into adulthood as a gnawing anxiety that’s never quite quelled. David Roberts, Vox, "Please don’t spank your kids," 3 July 2018 Microscopic scans ruled out a tumor, gnawing mice or other similar causes. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Did a Prehistoric Brain Surgeon Practice on This Cow?," 25 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gnaw.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of gnaw

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

History and Etymology for gnaw

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

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Dictionary Entries near gnaw

gnatling

gnatsnap

gnatter

gnaw

gnaw at

gnawingly

gnd

Statistics for gnaw

Last Updated

13 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gnaw

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

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More Definitions for gnaw

gnaw

verb

English Language Learners Definition of gnaw

: to bite or chew (something) repeatedly

: to make (a hole in something) by chewing

gnaw

verb
\ ˈnȯ \
gnawed; gnawing

Kids Definition of gnaw

: to bite so as to wear away : bite or chew upon The dog gnawed a bone.

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More from Merriam-Webster on gnaw

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gnaw

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gnaw

Spanish Central: Translation of gnaw

Nglish: Translation of gnaw for Spanish Speakers

Comments on gnaw

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