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gnaw

[naw] /nɔ/
verb (used with object), gnawed, gnawed or gnawn, gnawing.
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, gnawing.
6.
to bite or chew persistently:
The spaniel gnawed happily on a bone.
7.
to cause corrosion:
The acid gnaws at the metal.
8.
to cause an effect resembling corrosion:
Her mistake gnawed at her conscience.
Origin
1000
before 1000; Middle English gnawen, Old English gnagen; cognate with German nagen, Old Norse gnāga
Related forms
gnawable, adjective
gnawer, noun
outgnaw, verb (used with object), outgnawed, outgnawed or outgnawn, outgnawing.
undergnaw, verb (used with object)
ungnawed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for gnaw
  • Here's a rhetorical question to gnaw on while calculating your brackets the next two weeks.
  • Instead they slowly gnaw away at their summer bounty throughout the winter.
  • Do not leave bags of salt or leather items where animals can gnaw them.
  • They also gnaw on wires for sprinkler systems and traffic lights.
  • Rodents are especially problematic because they gnaw and jump.
  • Immigrant mothers gave them to babies to gnaw on, a kind of edible teething ring.
  • Great advocates intuit what will bother the witness and gnaw at it in their questions.
  • The forest floor is littered with branch tips that they gnaw off to clean their teeth.
  • No more throwing us a bone to gnaw on while they dine on arugula and stuffed goose.
British Dictionary definitions for gnaw

gnaw

/nɔː/
verb gnaws, gnawing, gnawed, gnawed, 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.
(transitive) to form by gnawing: to gnaw a hole
3.
to cause erosion of (something)
4.
when intr, often foll by at. to cause constant distress or anxiety (to)
noun
5.
the act or an instance of gnawing
Derived Forms
gnawable, adjective
gnawer, noun
gnawing, adjective, noun
gnawingly, adverb
Word Origin
Old English gnagan; related to Old Norse gnaga, Old High German gnagan
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 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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