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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 of gnaw
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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for gnawed
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • My own father was scalped, and the fathers of five others were scalped, and their bloody heads were gnawed by the wolf.

  • Then, just as we thought we had it, the wolf water came and gnawed the trail in two.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
  • Mr. Martin gnawed away at the earth, and used swear-words to himself, and was perfectly raging.

  • In the background the cabby loitered, gnawed by insatiable curiosity.

    The Black Bag Louis Joseph Vance
  • The concentration necessary to follow the badly blazed trees, and a biting hunger that gnawed, helped to keep his mind steady.

    The Wendigo Algernon Blackwood
  • She sighed and struggled with thoughts and pencil, which she gnawed at both ends.

    David Dunne Belle Kanaris Maniates
  • The poor were clad in rags and skins—they devoured crusts, and gnawed bones.

  • Rajcik finished the computation he was working on and gnawed thoughtfully at his pencil.

    Death Wish Robert Sheckley
British Dictionary definitions for gnawed

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 gnawed

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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11
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