Middle English Dictionary Entry

gnauen v.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

(a) To gnaw (sth.) with the teeth or other biting organs; bite, chew, nibble; freten and ~; ~ sharp, chew (sth.) to a point; (b) to gnaw; ~ at (on, upon), gnaw on (sth.); of horses: champ (the bit); (c) in surname.
(a) To consume (sth.) by gnawing or chewing, eat up; (b) to remove (sth.) by biting or gnawing; ~ awei, ~ of, eat (flesh) away (from the bones); ~ to peces, tear (sb.) to pieces with the teeth; (c) ~ the tonge, to bite (one's) tongue in pain, sorrow, indignation, madness, etc.; (d) ~ gras (ston, groundes), ~ on the groundes, to bite the dust, die.
Of sharp instruments, knots: to bite into (flesh).
Fig. (a) To disparage (sb. or someone's life), carp at, slander, revile; ~ on; to speak foolishly or irreverently of (God); (b) ~ on, to meditate upon (sth.); (c) ~ jugement, to eat (one's own) damnation [cp. 1 Cor.11.29].
Fig. (a) Of anger, sorrow, sin, pain, disease, hunger, etc.: to torment (sb., the heart, conscience, etc.), vex, distress; be distressing or tormenting; ~ on, rankle in (sb., the heart); (b) of the heart: to feel a gnawing pain, suffer; (c) to make (sth.) worthless, destroy.
Anat. & Med. To eat away (tissue), corrode, destroy: (a) of humors, ulcers, wounds, sores; (b) of medicines, poison, corrosive substances or objects.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • a1500(a1460) Towneley Pl.(Hnt HM 1)385/559 : I Wold cut thaym a skawte and make theym be knawne.
  • Note: New spelling
    Note: REL says could be knouen v.
  • ?a1425 Castle Love(4) (CotApp 7)71 : Þat on turmentour hym slowgh, Þat other hys flessh and bonys knogh, And straungled hym þe third.
  • Note: New spelling for 1a.(a) per SMK
    Note: Add etym. material--per SMK: Etymol. add: [For forms in kn-, cp. MDu. cnagen & cnauwen.]