gnaw [naw] ExamplesWord Origin See more synonyms for gnaw on verb (used with object), gnawed, gnawed or gnawn, gnaw·ing.

  1. to bite or chew on, especially persistently.
  2. to wear away or remove by persistent biting or nibbling.
  3. to form or make by so doing: to gnaw a hole through the wall.
  4. to waste or wear away; corrode; erode.
  5. to trouble or torment by constant annoyance, worry, etc.; vex; plague.

verb (used without object), gnawed, gnawed or gnawn, gnaw·ing.

  1. to bite or chew persistently: The spaniel gnawed happily on a bone.
  2. to cause corrosion: The acid gnaws at the metal.
  3. to cause an effect resembling corrosion: Her mistake gnawed at her conscience.

Origin of gnaw before 1000; Middle English gnawen, Old English gnagen; cognate with German nagen, Old Norse gnāga Related formsgnaw·a·ble, adjectivegnaw·er, nounout·gnaw, verb (used with object), out·gnawed, out·gnawed or out·gnawn, out·gnaw·ing.un·der·gnaw, verb (used with object)un·gnawed, adjective Related Words for gnaw nibble, eat, chomp, annoy, bedevil, nag, irritate, haunt, crunch, erode, consume, munch, gum, corrode, devour, masticate, wear, champ, chaw, distress Examples from the Web for gnaw Contemporary Examples of gnaw

  • In the end, the ethical implications of using a drug to pull statements from otherwise unwilling people began to gnaw.

    Would Truth Serum Work on James Holmes in the Aurora Shooting Trial?

    Kent Sepkowitz

    March 14, 2013

  • Stanley Crouch on why there are so many predators “looking for some high-profile black female meat to give the gnaw.”

    Michelle vs. the All-American Jackass

    Stanley Crouch

    March 25, 2009

  • Historical Examples of gnaw

  • The dogs had devoured even the entrails of the seal, and began to gnaw their traces.

    The Field of Ice

    Jules Verne

  • The dog was unable to gnaw through the leather at his own end of the stick.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • Sam watched her go to the house, and doubts began to gnaw at him.

    The Odyssey of Sam Meecham

    Charles E. Fritch

  • I attempted to gnaw through the wires, but they resisted my utmost efforts.

    The Rambles of a Rat

    A. L. O. E.

  • They burrowed under the snow until they could gnaw them, and thus they released us.

    The Young Treasure Hunter

    Frank V. Webster

  • British Dictionary definitions for gnaw gnaw verb gnaws, gnawing, gnawed, gnawed or gnawn (nɔːn)

    1. (when intr, often foll by at or upon) to bite (at) or chew (upon) constantly so as to wear away little by little
    2. (tr) to form by gnawingto gnaw a hole
    3. to cause erosion of (something)
    4. (when intr, often foll by at) to cause constant distress or anxiety (to)


    1. the act or an instance of gnawing

    Derived Formsgnawable, adjectivegnawer, noungnawing, adjective, noungnawingly, adverbWord Origin for gnaw Old English gnagan; related to Old Norse gnaga, Old High German gnagan Word Origin and History for gnaw v.

    Old English gnagan (past tense *gnog, past participle gnagan) “to gnaw,” a common Germanic word (cf. Old Saxon gnagan, Old Norse, Swedish gnaga, Middle Dutch, Dutch knagen, Old High German gnagan, German nagen “to gnaw”), probably imitative of gnawing. Related: Gnawed; gnawing.

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