gnaw (away) at (someone or something)

gnaw (away) at (someone or something)

1. To chew on something, often biting off small pieces. The dog is just gnawing away at his new bone, happy as can be.
2. To bother someone or cause them worry or trepidation. His critical comments are really gnawing at me today—I can't stop thinking about them.
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 (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 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