"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[naw-ing] /ˈnɔ ɪŋ/
the act of a person or thing that gnaws.
Usually, gnawings. persistent, dull pains; pangs:
the gnawings of hunger.
Origin of gnawing
1300-50; Middle English; see gnaw, -ing1
Related forms
gnawingly, adverb


[naw] /nɔ/
verb (used with object), gnawed, gnawed or gnawn, gnawing.
to bite or chew on, especially persistently.
to wear away or remove by persistent biting or nibbling.
to form or make by so doing:
to gnaw a hole through the wall.
to waste or wear away; corrode; erode.
to trouble or torment by constant annoyance, worry, etc.; vex; plague.
verb (used without object), gnawed, gnawed or gnawn, gnawing.
to bite or chew persistently:
The spaniel gnawed happily on a bone.
to cause corrosion:
The acid gnaws at the metal.
to cause an effect resembling corrosion:
Her mistake gnawed at her conscience.
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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for gnawing
  • They seem to be gnawing holes through the walls and sneaking in under our secondary coop.
  • The police here work in the face of a gnawing contradiction.
  • It's gross watching anyone gnawing at great lumps of uncut meat.
  • On stubby legs they crawl over one another, gnawing on any protruding ear, limb or nose.
  • The teeth would be more suitable for gnawing than for slicing or cutting.
  • No, not the moist, lemony towelette you use to degrease your fingers after gnawing on hot wings.
  • The gnawing ache sent him to the mirror to look for a possible source.
  • They bob up and down, their ivory tusks gnawing frigid water.
  • But others point to uncertainties gnawing at businesses and households as portents of subdued growth.
  • Rodents are gnawing mammals characterized by constantly growing incisors adapted for gnawing or nibbling.
British Dictionary definitions for gnawing


verb gnaws, gnawing, gnawed, gnawed, gnawn (nɔːn)
when intr, often foll by at or upon. to bite (at) or chew (upon) constantly so as to wear away little by little
(transitive) to form by gnawing: to gnaw a hole
to cause erosion of (something)
when intr, often foll by at. to cause constant distress or anxiety (to)
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 gnawing



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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