v. gnawed, gnaw·ing, gnaws
a. To bite, chew on, or erode with the teeth.
b. To produce by gnawing: gnaw a hole.
c. To erode or diminish gradually as if by gnawing: waves gnawing the rocky shore.
2. To afflict or worry persistently: fear that constantly gnawed me.
1. To bite or chew persistently: The dog gnawed at the bone.
2. To cause erosion or gradual diminishment.
3. To cause persistent worry or pain: Hunger gnawed at the prisoners.
[Middle English gnauen, from Old English gnagan.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.