gnaw

verb
\ ˈnȯ How to pronounce gnaw (audio) \
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

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 How to pronounce gnawer (audio) \ 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 Nearby was a rib and a jumble of arm bones that had evidently been gnawed off by coyotes and foxes. Wired, "The Strange Life and Mysterious Death of a Virtuoso Coder," 14 Nov. 2019 Cora said inconsistent pitching and an eight-day stretch from July 28 through Aug. 4 that saw Boston lose eight straight games — five to the Yankees and three to the Rays — will gnaw at him. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Bullpen blows E-Rod’s 20th win, Red Sox beat O’s anyway," 29 Sep. 2019 Speaking with the Art Newspaper’s Scott Reyburn, Turquin says a key piece of evidence supporting the attribution is a trail of centuries-old tracks left by wood-gnawing larvae. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Lost Renaissance Masterpiece Worth $6 Million Found Hanging Above Woman’s Hotplate," 25 Sep. 2019 The Hotline has given deep thought over the years to the exposure issues gnawing at the conference and concluded the problem isn’t the night games or the Pac-12 Networks’ low subscriber total. Jon Wilner, The Denver Post, "The Pac-12’s cash grab, night game pain and the exposure issue gnawing at the conference," 17 Sep. 2019 The Hotline has given deep thought over the years to the exposure issues gnawing at the conference and concluded the problem isn’t the night games or the Pac-12 Networks’ low subscriber total. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, "Hotline analysis: The Pac-12’s cash grab, night game pain and the exposure issue gnawing at the conference," 17 Sep. 2019 There was little in that to abate a nation gnawing its fingernails, but India Today, an English-language television station, was anxious to put a brave face on. The Economist, "Bangalore, we have a problem," 7 Sep. 2019 Joe Maddon’s crew — and its fans — are condemned to a long, suspenseful slog where every game gnaws at the gut. Phil Rosenthal, chicagotribune.com, "3 Cubs TV takeaways from Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Cardinals, including Len Kasper’s ‘Bachelorette’ allusion," 31 July 2019 Trump’s gnawing hunger to be at the center of the daily news cycle is a poor fit for our system of government. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Trump’s Tax on the National Psyche," 21 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for gnaw

Last Updated

17 Nov 2019

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
How to pronounce gnaw (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gnaw

: to bite or chew (something) repeatedly
: to make (a hole in something) by chewing

gnaw

verb
\ ˈnȯ How to pronounce gnaw (audio) \
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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gnaw

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gnaw

Spanish Central: Translation of gnaw

Nglish: Translation of gnaw for Spanish Speakers

Comments on gnaw

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