- To gnaw is defined as to bite and wear away a small part at a time.
An example of to gnaw is a dog chewing on a bone.
A baby gnaws a toy.
transitive verbgnawed, gnawed or Raregnawn, gnawing
- to cut, bite, and wear away bit by bit with the teeth
- to make by gnawing: to gnaw a hole
- to consume; wear away; corrode
- to torment, as by constant pain, fear, etc.; harass
Origin of gnawMiddle English gnawen ; from Old English gnagen, akin to German nagen (OHG gnagan) ; from Indo-European an unverified form ghnēgh ; from base an unverified form ghen-, to gnaw away, rub away from source gnash, gnat
- to bite repeatedly: with on, away, at, etc.
- to produce a biting, consuming, corroding, eroding, tormenting, etc. effect: with on, at, etc.: waves gnawed away at the shore; fear gnawed on his consciousness
verbgnawed gnawed, gnaw·ing, gnaws
- a. To bite, chew on, or erode with the teeth.b. To produce by gnawing: gnaw a hole.c. To erode or diminish gradually as if by gnawing: waves gnawing the rocky shore.
- To afflict or worry persistently: fear that constantly gnawed me.
- To bite or chew persistently: The dog gnawed at the bone.
- To cause erosion or gradual diminishment.
- To cause persistent worry or pain: Hunger gnawed at the prisoners.
Origin of gnawMiddle English gnauen, from Old English gnagan.
(third-person singular simple present gnaws, present participle gnawing, simple past gnawed, past participle gnawed or gnawn)
From Old English gnagan, from Proto-Germanic *gnaganą. Cognate with Dutch knagen, German nagen, Swedish gnaga.