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
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.
The Copa del Rey final matches Barcelona's star power against a tiny Basque Country club whose biggest weapons are its grit and gnawing hunger for a taste of glory.
All that ceaseless ricocheting from husband to lover and back proves exhausting to Mary, Winger’s character, whose furrowed features and unruly mop attest to the gnawing anxiety that comes with age.
The metaphorical pain became less metaphorical with each eviction, with the gnawing feeling that something was coming.
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 century
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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