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

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 Pets will eat just about anything: shoes, grass, sticks, Amazon boxes, paychecks, Diet Coke cans — and that's just what my own two dogs have gnawed on over the years. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "5 Holiday Plants That Are Way More Toxic Than Poinsettias to Cats and Dogs," 14 Dec. 2018 The river water gnawed away lead from pipes, joints and fixtures that contaminated drinking water in the majority-black city of 100,000 people. John Flesher, The Seattle Times, "Michigan governor revamps environmental agency after Flint," 4 Feb. 2019 Such is not the case in Okkervil River songs, where singer-songwriter Will Sheff has time and again returned to the throat in song, often to violent, gnawing and gnashing ends. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "Okkervil River’s Will Sheff examines his throat — and heart — on band’s new album," 23 May 2018

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

16 Jun 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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