gnaw

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gnaw (at) (someone's) vitals

To greatly or deeply trouble someone; to affect in someone an intense feeling of anguish or despair. Seeing the suffering of so many people overseas gnawed at her vitals day and night, so she decided to join the Red Cross so she could finally help in some way.
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gnaw (away) at someone

Fig. to worry someone; to create constant anxiety in someone. The thought of catching some horrible disease gnawed away at her. A lot of guilt gnawed at him day and night.
See also: gnaw

gnaw (away) at someone or something

Lit. to chew at someone or something. I hear a mouse gnawing away at the wall. The mosquitoes are gnawing at me something awful.
See also: gnaw

gnaw on something

to chew on something. (Usually said of an animal.) The puppy has been gnawing on my slippers! This slipper has been gnawed on!
See also: gnaw, on

gnaw at

v.
1. To bite or chew on something, removing small pieces of it a bit at a time: The mice gnawed at the corner of the box until they had made a small hole in it.
2. To cause someone or something to have or feel persistent discomfort, anxiety, or guilt: His harsh criticism gnawed at me the rest of the day. Hunger was gnawing at my stomach.
See also: gnaw

gnaw away

v.
1. To bite or chew something a bit at a time: The fox gnawed the tough meat away first, and then bit into the bone.
2. To bite or chew on something repeatedly in order to grind it down or to remove small pieces from it a bit at a time: The kids gnawed away at the cobs of fresh corn. That dog will gnaw away at that bone until it gets to the marrow inside.
3. To cause someone or something to have or feel persistent discomfort, anxiety, or guilt: Dark thoughts gnawed away at my mind.
See also: away, gnaw

gnaw on

v.
1. To bite or chew on something, either without eating it or removing small pieces of it a bit at a time: The dog has been gnawing on that bone for days.
2. To cause someone or something to have or feel persistent discomfort, anxiety, or guilt: Unpleasant dreams gnawed on me all night and I couldn't sleep.
See also: gnaw, on
References in periodicals archive ?
A CHIPMUNKS are avid gnawers so make sure your chipmunk has enough chance to wear down his ever-growing teeth.
It is well-known that members of the Order Rodentia, whose name translates to "the gnawers," will chew on bones in the wild, and that "pest" species, such as Mus musculus (house mouse), chew through wood, plastic and many other materials they encounter.
They are also champion gnawers, so wooden hutches are not suitable - relatively expensive wire mesh cages are required and these should be 2m x 2m x 1m, so a lot of space is needed to keep them.
They are gnawers and you have to worry about alarm wires," said Baque.