gnaw

Definitions

  • rat will not gnaw
    rat will not gnaw
  • WordNet 3.6
    • v gnaw become ground down or deteriorate "Her confidence eroded"
    • v gnaw bite or chew on with the teeth "gnaw an old cracker"
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Gnaw To bite in agony or rage. "They gnawed their tongues for pain."
    • Gnaw To bite, as something hard or tough, which is not readily separated or crushed; to bite off little by little, with effort; to wear or eat away by scraping or continuous biting with the teeth; to nibble at. "His bones clean picked; his very bones they gnaw ."
    • Gnaw To corrode; to fret away; to waste.
    • Gnaw To trouble in a constant manner; to plague; to worry; to vex; -- usually used with at; as, his mounting debts gnawed at him.
    • v. i Gnaw To use the teeth in biting; to bite with repeated effort, as in eating or removing with the teeth something hard, unwieldy, or unmanageable. "I might well, like the spaniel, gnaw upon the chain that ties me."
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • gnaw To bite off little by little; bite or scrape away with the front teeth; erode or eat into.
    • gnaw To bite upon, as in close thought, vexation, rage, etc.
    • gnaw To wear away as if by continued biting; consume; fret; waste.
    • gnaw To act by or as if by continual biting away of small fragments or portions.
    • gnaw To bite or nibble at the hook, as fish.
    • n gnaw A gnawing.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • v.t Gnaw naw to bite so as to make a noise with the teeth: to bite off by degrees: to corrode or wear away: to bite in agony or rage:
    • v.i Gnaw to use the teeth in biting
    • v.t Gnaw naw (fig.) to torment
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Quotations

  • Hitopadesa
    Hitopadesa
    “What ever is the natural propensity of a person is hard to overcome. If a dog were made a king, he would still gnaw at his shoes laces.”
  • Henry Ward Beecher
    Henry%20Ward%20Beecher
    “Interest works night and day in fair weather and in foul. It gnaws at a man's substance with invisible teeth.”
  • Guillaume Apollinaire
    Guillaume Apollinaire
    “I love men, not for what unites them, but for what divides them, and I want to know most of all what gnaws at their hearts.”
  • Henry David Thoreau
    Henry%20David%20Thoreau
    “Do what you love. Know you own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.”
  • Edmund Burke
    Edmund%20Burke
    “By gnawing through a dike, even a rat may drown a nation.”
  • Thomas H. Huxley
    Thomas%20H.%20Huxley
    “Time, whose tooth gnaws away at everything else, is powerless against truth.”

Idioms

Gnaw your vitals - If something gnaws your vitals, it troubles you greatly and affects you at a very deep level. ('Gnaw at your vitals' is also used.)
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Etymology

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. gnawen, AS. gnagan,; akin to D. knagen, OHG. gnagan, nagan, G. nagen, Icel. & Sw. gnaga, Dan. gnave, nage,. Cf. Nag to tease
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
A.S. gnagan; cf. Dut. knagen, Ice. naga, prov. Eng. nag, to tease.

Usage

In literature:

The caller hauled a plug of tobacco from his pocket, gnawed off a chew, and began slow wagging of his jaws.
"Blow The Man Down" by Holman Day
The animals obstructed the farmyard, broke down the fences, and went gnawing at everything.
"Bouvard and Pécuchet" by Gustave Flaubert
I want to get him a nice bone to gnaw.
"The Curlytops and Their Playmates" by Howard R. Garis
So there he sat and gnawed and gnawed and gnawed.
"The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse" by Thornton W. Burgess
On that spot, in very truth, there was, and there had long been, the gnawing and poisonous tooth of bodily pain.
"The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne
He forgot the pain in his teeth and gnawed as no other squirrel had ever gnawed before.
"Boys and Girls Bookshelf; a Practical Plan of Character Building, Volume I (of 17)" by Various
Then their gnawing appetites persuaded them to forgive their considerate host.
"Blackbeard: Buccaneer" by Ralph D. Paine
So there he sat and gnawed and gnawed and gnawed.
"The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse" by Thornton W. Burgess
In one of the provision baskets of the Zealanders ten half gnawed bones were found.
"Celebrated Travels and Travellers" by Jules Verne
She's a sweet, dear lady, with some awful tragedy gnawing at her heart.
"Patty's Friends" by Carolyn Wells
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In poetry:

And never squeak, my children,
Nor gnaw the smoke-house door:
The owl-queen then will love us
And send her birds no more.
"What Grandpa Mouse Said" by Vachel Lindsay
A small green worm that gnaws,
For the nightingale that low
Each eve doth rave, the passionate slave
Of the wild white rose below.
"The Mirror" by Madison Julius Cawein
Over it and about
Men's footsteps beat, and wind and waterspout,
Until the names, aforetime gnawed by weathers,
Were quite worn out.
"The Obliterate Tomb" by Thomas Hardy
MADEMOISELLE DE LA SAUCE MAYONNAISE
Didn't yield to a gnawing despair
But married a soldier, and plays
As a pretty and pert Vivandiere.
"Lorenzo De Lardy" by William Schwenck Gilbert
And first he swore and gnawed his lip,
And glanced around in fear,
Till a thought came into his mind again
That brought him better cheer.
"The Ballad Of The Dinkinbar" by Cicely Fox Smith
Oh lapping waves!—oh gnawing waves!—
That rest not day nor night,—
I hear ye when the light
Is dim and awful in your hollow caves.—
"By the Seashore at Night" by Kate Seymour Maclean

In news:

Rats, Rats Everywhere, and Nary a One That Won't Gnaw Your Horrified Heart.
Think of it as a casual Kings County salon: Three playwrights—David Henry Hwang , Amy Herzog, and Thomas Bradshaw—nestled on a sofa, sipping fizzy drinks and gnawing ginger cookies as the their fall season begins.
Chicago Bulls guard Richard Hamilton said Thursday that Derrick Rose is in good spirits as he rehabs his surgically repaired left knee, but there is one irritant gnawing at Rose and all of his teammates.
Ever feel that gnawing pain in your stomach because you…just…can't…decide.
THE pain is like no other, its sufferers say, deep, gnawing agony that goes to the bone.
Anang, a female otter, gnaws on a carrot, one of her favorite treats, while painting her next work of art at the Great Lakes Aquarium on Oct 3, 2012, in Duluth, Minn.
I almost dropped the leg of lamb I was gnawing on.
As Weeks Wore On, Mark's Smugness , Perceived Inaction Gnawed at His Numbers.
I have a couple of comments for you to gnaw on, and they both originated from last weeks paper.
Even as the Nittany Lions walked off the field after yet another gnawing victory, work was still being done between coach and player.
It's a gnawing uncertainty about how much of Coney's treasured lore will survive into the next summer.
The questions gnaw at me as a little scene I witnessed the other day keeps replaying itself in my head.
Should the United States fall off the so-called "fiscal cliff," Northeast Ohio's health care providers would stomach millions of dollars in revenue cuts their leaders say could gnaw away at their already-slim operating margins.
A polar bear takes a break from gnawing on whale meat.
Rat droppings, gnawed through bags of food and gnawed on food containers were just a few of the infractions t hat caused inspectors to close the Mexican restaurant.
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