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 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>
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.
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
What made you want to look up gnaw? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).