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
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 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

Some bone lovers believe that the wee bits gnawed off the bone are the best, the sweetest bits of all. Bill St. John, The Denver Post, "With steaks, closer to the bone makes a difference," 10 July 2019 Don't worry—the rope on this bridge is much more durable than the one in the movie and is ready to be chewed and gnawed on. Tainaya Nash, House Beautiful, "Etsy is Selling an Indiana Jones-Themed Cat Bridge For Your Home," 25 June 2019 Eastern cottontail rabbits began decimating the roses about a year and a half ago, gnawing the skin off the canes, nibbling the petals, and generally wreaking havoc with the delicate flowers. Michael Levenson, BostonGlobe.com, "‘The roses and the rabbits can’t live together’," 24 June 2019 Balance is more important for ribs than we bone-gnawing Neanderthals like to admit. Mike Sutter, ExpressNews.com, "Review: B&B Smokehouse sets a solid barbecue table on San Antonio’s South Side," 13 June 2019 The movie is startling for its raw tactility: the opening credits play over close-ups of Jade’s burned skin, pitted and gnawed where the acid fell. K.s.c., The Economist, "In “Dirty God”, a woman navigates life in the wake of a brutal attack," 11 June 2019 Tostito has ears that look like they’ve been gnawed on. Steve Annear, BostonGlobe.com, "Could this dog from Maine be the ugliest in the world?," 10 June 2019 And neither team wants to focus on the inconsistencies that have gnawed at Celtics coach Brad Stevens and Pacers coach Nate McMillan throughout the season. Kyle Hightower, The Seattle Times, "Pacers, Celtics enter playoff matchup looking for redemption," 13 Apr. 2019 That question is a minor mystery that has gnawed at scientists since the tiny fossilized creatures were first discovered 150 years ago. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "A 150-Year Old Weird Ancient Animal Mystery, Solved," 22 Feb. 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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Learn More about gnaw

Dictionary Entries near gnaw

gnatling

gnatsnap

gnatter

gnaw

gnaw at

gnawingly

gnd

Statistics for gnaw

Last Updated

14 Jul 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 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

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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