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gnat

[nat] /næt/
noun
1.
any of certain small flies, especially the biting gnats or punkies of the family Ceratopogonidae, the midges of the family Chironomidae, and the black flies of the family Simuliidae.
2.
British, mosquito.
Idioms
3.
strain at a gnat and swallow a camel, to fuss about trifles while ignoring more serious matters.
Origin
900
before 900; Middle English; Old English gnæt(t); cognate with German (dial.) Gnatze
Related forms
gnatlike, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for gnats
  • Too bad the feeding consists of the usual straining at gnats and the cheerfully swallowing of big ugly camels.
  • It's a well-earned name because its swarming with hungry mosquitoes, pestering gnats and poisonous snakes.
  • When your compost pile sits away from your house, the occasional stinky scrap or swarm of gnats doesn't pose much of a problem.
  • gnats were thought to be formed out of spots of dew on leaves.
  • Other times, they're tiny distractions, little textual gnats buzzing around your head.
  • The air, over the field, was thick with flying gnats.
  • Tiny bells, the size of gnats, ring on every inch of his skin.
  • The destruction of the gnats was then thought to be virtually complete.
  • Lab-made elements are the priceless gnats of chemistry.
  • Snow is swirling in the ship's lights, thick as gnats.
British Dictionary definitions for gnats

gnat

/næt/
noun
1.
any of various small fragile biting dipterous insects of the suborder Nematocera, esp Culex pipiens (common gnat), which abounds near stagnant water
Derived Forms
gnatlike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English gnætt; related to Middle High German gnaz scurf, German dialect Gnitze gnat
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gnats

gnat

n.

Old English gnætt "gnat, midge, mosquito," earlier gneat, used of various small, flying insects, from Proto-Germanic *gnattaz (cf. Low German gnatte, German Gnitze); perhaps literally "biting insect" and related to gnaw.

The gnatte is a litil fflye, and hatte culex..he soukeþ blood and haþ in his mouþ a pipe, as hit were a pricke..And is a-countid a-mong volatiles..and greueþ slepinge men wiþ noyse & wiþ bytinge and wakeþ hem of here reste. [John of Trevisa, transl. of Bartholomew de Glanville's "De proprietatibus rerum," 1398]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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gnats in Medicine

gnat (nāt)
n.
Any of various small, biting, two-winged flies, such as a biting midge or black fly.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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gnats in Technology
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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gnats in the Bible

only in Matt. 23:24, a small two-winged stinging fly of the genus Culex, which includes mosquitoes. Our Lord alludes here to the gnat in a proverbial expression probably in common use, "who strain out the gnat;" the words in the Authorized Version, "strain at a gnat," being a mere typographical error, which has been corrected in the Revised Version. The custom of filtering wine for this purpose was common among the Jews. It was founded on Lev. 11:23. It is supposed that the "lice," Ex. 8:16 (marg. R.V., "sand-flies"), were a species of gnat.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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6
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