gnaw (away) at (someone or something)

(redirected from gnawing at)

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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

gnaw at

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

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in classic literature ?
I was ashamed (even now, perhaps, I am ashamed): I got to the point of feeling a sort of secret abnormal, despicable enjoyment in returning home to my corner on some disgusting Petersburg night, acutely conscious that that day I had committed a loathsome action again, that what was done could never be undone, and secretly, inwardly gnawing, gnawing at myself for it, tearing and consuming myself till at last the bitterness turned into a sort of shameful accursed sweetness, and at last--into positive real enjoyment!
THE ALL YOU NEWS Senior keeper Kirsty Thornton said: "The three spiny mice have been gnawing at chunks of the tree and are using it to grind their teeth down naturally.
gnawing at the heart's hole-- that entryway, that mother price?
There was something vital about it, something about the hunger of the underdog gnawing at the might of the favourite.
In this book, he tells what it feels like to be a Palestinian today, with feelings of displacement, of injustice gnawing at the core of his being.
That quiet gnawing at night after lights out; that empty feeling helps bring tears when taps were played.
Most often, I have one or two people tell me that I've firmed up an interest that has been gnawing at them, and several more people asking me questions to test the waters or to see if they can find a weak spot in my argument or conviction.
Also, a peppery polymer coating for fiber-optic cables could stop pesky rodents from gnawing at them.
you can see tiny creatures still gnawing at the shreds of decomposing meat,
I see the stream gnawing at its banks like a dog chews a bone, working a bit off one side, then turning to worry a few particles off the other.
Jan Ometak, 28, broke into Doug Morgan's house at 4am and attacked him like "an animal", gnawing at his face, arms and chest.
More disconcerting news about the ozone layer: The same kinds of chemical reactions causing the yearly Antarctic ozone "hole" may be gnawing at the global veil of ozone, according to recent laboratory experiments.
The pain, rage and heartache are gnawing at his very soul, so much so he is hopelessly trawling the streets in search of his son's killer.