gnaw

To gnaw is to bite or chew. Your favorite food might be corn on the cob, because you love to gnaw along each row of kernels.

To gnaw also means to deteriorate or wear away as if by gnawing with the teeth. In Arches National Park, the weather has gnawed away at the rocks creating beautiful formations like arches, bridges, and balanced rocks. In this sense, to gnaw can be used even more figuratively. Something might gnaw at the back of your mind — something you were supposed to do, although now you can't quite remember what it was.

Definitions of gnaw
  1. verb
    bite or chew on with the teeth
    gnaw an old cracker”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    chew, jaw, manducate, masticate
    chew (food); to bite and grind with the teeth
    bite, seize with teeth
    to grip, cut off, or tear with or as if with the teeth or jaws
  2. verb
    become ground down or deteriorate
    synonyms: eat at, erode, gnaw at, wear away
    see moresee less
    type of:
    crumble, decay, dilapidate
    fall into decay or ruin
  3. verb
    gnaw into; make resentful or angry
    synonyms: eat into, fester, fret, grate, rankle
    see moresee less
    type of:
    annoy, bother, chafe, devil, get at, get to, gravel, irritate, nark, nettle, rag, rile, vex
    cause annoyance in; disturb, especially by minor irritations
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week