From Middle English gnawen, gnaȝen, from Old English gnagan, from Proto-Germanic *gnaganą. Cognate with Dutch knagen, German nagen, Norwegian Bokmål gnage, Norwegian Nynorsk gnaga, Swedish gnaga. Probably from Proto-Indo-European *gʰnēgʰ- (“to gnaw, scratch”)
- (transitive, intransitive) To bite something persistently, especially something tough.
- The dog gnawed the bone until it broke in two.
- 1592-94?, Shakespeare, Richard III, Act I, Scene iv, line 25:
- Ten thousand men that fishes gnaw'd upon;
- (intransitive) To produce excessive anxiety or worry.
- Her comment gnawed at me all day and I couldn't think about anything else.
- To corrode; to fret away; to waste.