gnaw

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Related to gnaws: chewing out, chomped

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.
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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.
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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 ?
Daniela Rossell's repugnant yet alluring photographs of nouveaux riches theatrically posed in the tacky opulence of their homes expose a lack that gnaws at the heart of wealth.
Neither the jaws of the rocks with their purple gums nor the snide laughter of the holly that gnaws them and would gladly gnaw anything else can faze the bicycle thief; those slabs of rock are great springboards.
As Black America stands at the crossroads of its future, this question gnaws at the intestines of the Black community and its leadership," he writes.
The mystery surrounding the girl who went missing right after graduation gnaws at Willa and ultimately leads to a murder and a revelation.
Fear gnaws at the amygdala, an almond-shaped lump of tissue located near the center of the brain.
The gopher gnaws continuously not because it enjoys gnawing, but because it must.
The King of All Media's free-associative deflation of American propaganda in all its coy and bullying forms--from movie stars yakking about their latest projects to politicians lying through their teeth--constantly gnaws at the corporate brackets squeezing the First Amendment into Silly Putty.
For weeks something gnaws away at her body and mind, trying to work itself front and center.
When it finds one, the animal gnaws through the wood and pokes its skinny finger into the tunnel to fish out the larvae.
This shield keeps plastic dust out of the rodent's throat and windpipe while it gnaws.
These cards give such SAT-beating advice as "Challenging reading in a variety of disciplines increases academic success," but the one that gnaws at Fish asks, "What is the real question?