strain at a gnat swallow camel

gnat

[nat]
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:
before 900; Middle English; Old English gnæt(t); cognate with German (dial.) Gnatze

gnatlike, adjective
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
gnat (næt)
 
n
any of various small fragile biting dipterous insects of the suborder Nematocera, esp Culex pipiens (common gnat), which abounds near stagnant water
 
[Old English gnætt; related to Middle High German gnaz scurf, German dialect Gnitze gnat]
 
'gnatlike
 
adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

gnat
O.E. gnætt, earlier gneat, from P.Gmc. *gnattaz (cf. Low Ger. gnatte, Ger. Gnitze).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

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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Easton
Bible Dictionary

Gnat definition


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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