Definition of gnaw
1a : to bite or chew on with the teeth; especially : to wear away by persistent biting or nibbling a dog gnawing a boneb : to make by gnawing rats gnawed a hole
2a : to be a source of vexation to : plague anxiety always gnawing himb : to affect like gnawing hunger gnawing her vitals
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
gnawerplay \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.
Recent Examples of gnaw from the Web
The Cyclones were trailing 21–16, but something else was gnawing at head coach Matt Campbell.
The contrary forces, pain and pleasure, trust and fear, all bounce around in your bones with the gnawing feeling that magic might actually be real.
Gnawing away the roots of marsh plants, nutria leave little to hold the fragile landscape in place.
De-rib and split kale and collard leaves down the middle, then cut them into thin ribbons to avoid feeling like a hamster gnawing your lunch.
The yearning for meaning, or even a grander sense of plot, begins to gnaw at the viewer.
The scene in Britain has played out just as other sources of uncertainty have been gnawing at the global economy.
On the eve of the war, Mr. Yaakov said, he was filled with the same doubts that had gnawed at the American scientists during the Manhattan Project.
Language is organized into meaningful units such as words, and a system of rules -- a grammar -- that enables us to compose our words and express everything from the gnawing ache of unrequited love to a banal observation on the weather.
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.
Origin and Etymology of gnaw
Middle English gnawen, from Old English gnagan; akin to Old High German gnagan to gnaw
First Known Use: before 12th centurySee Words from the same year
GNAW Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of gnaw for English Language Learners
: to bite or chew (something) repeatedly
: to make (a hole in something) by chewing
GNAW Defined for Kids
Definition of gnaw for Students
: to bite so as to wear away : bite or chew upon The dog gnawed a bone.
Seen and Heard
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