nibble away at

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nibble (away) at (something)

1. Literally, to eat something at a slow pace and in small bites. I wonder if Mary isn't feeling well—she only nibbled at her dinner. He sat on the bench, happily nibbling away at his cookie.
2. To erode something in small increments over time. Corrosion has been nibbling away at the hull of my boat for the past few years.
3. To bite something very softly so as not to break the surface. He started nibbling at my elbows, thinking it would turn me on.
See also: nibble
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

nibble away at something

to eat at something in tiny bits; to erode away tiny bits of something. The waves nibbled away at the base of the cliff, year after year. The mice nibbled away at the huge wheel of cheese.
See also: away, nibble
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
He said: "Sheep are ideal as they nibble away at encroaching brambles and shrubs that are starting to invade this area."
"There is room for Target to nibble away at the market," Saunders told CNBC.
Software companies could become important Defense Department partners, Barron's says As artificial intelligence, autonomous flying and driving, and cybersecurity play larger roles in warfare, software is likely to nibble away at the defense budget, too, Jack Hough writes in this week's edition of Barron's.
"Frogs' legs are one of the better-known delicacies of the French Cuisine - every year the French nibble away at 4,000 tonnes of frogs' legs - and we wanted to let the Huddersfield Food Festival goers have a taste of this slightly more unusual yet tasty French dish."
"No one can conquer that problem, but you can nibble away at it."
(4) 2 Ill (6) 4 Optimism (4) 5 Hard smooth stone used for statues (6) 6 Dull and ordinary (7) 9 Plant with colourful scented flowers (7) 11 Crescent-shaped nut (6) 12 Climb (6) 14 Open-mouthed in awe (4) 15 Nibble away at (4) SOLUTION to Crossword -June 17 ACROSS 1 Dusk, 3 Opaque, 7 Skip, 8 Boxing, 10 Aperitif, 13 Pavilion, 16 Hermit, 17 Bill, 18 Pamper, 19 Fear.
Thefirm'sspokesman Wayne Lincoln said: "Saturday's stubborn Windiesbattingand sloppy England catching saw our clients nibble away at yesterday's opening Windies runsquoteof319-334,getting braver with their buys as the sessionwenton!
They retrenched, quietened the garrulous home team and quietly started to nibble away at the target.
. I'VE eaten enough fish in my time, so maybe I should return the compliment and allow the fish to nibble away at yours truly.
Originating from the river basins of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, the fish are renowned for the way they nibble away at dead and damaged skin cells to exfoliate, leaving you with smoother skin after a half an hour treatment.
"Dollar and drug stores will continue to nibble away at the cheese," says Dr.
Visitors can sit in comfort while dangling their legs into a tank of water containing around 150 of the toothless carp and let them nibble away at tough skin flakes.
The problems which subsumed Freedom Direct are facing many other travel companies as the credit crunch continues to nibble away at our annual break.
In America (where else!) garra ruffa - a toothless water dweller known as "doctor fish" (that's one of the nippers above) - nibble away at dead skin while leaving healthy flesh untouched.