gnarled [nahrld] SynonymsExamplesWord Origin See more synonyms for gnarled on adjective

  1. (of trees) full of or covered with gnarls; bent; twisted.
  2. having a rugged, weather-beaten appearance: a gnarled old sea captain.
  3. crabby; cantankerous.

Origin of gnarled First recorded in 1595–1605; variant of knurled Related formsun·gnarled, adjective gnarl 1[nahrl] noun

  1. a knotty protuberance on a tree; knot.

verb (used with object)

  1. to twist into a knotted or distorted form.

Origin of gnarl 1First recorded in 1805–15; back formation from gnarled Synonyms for gnarl See more synonyms for on 2. contort, distort. gnarl 2[nahrl] verb (used without object)

  1. to growl; snarl.

Origin of gnarl 2First recorded in 1585–95; variant of gnar Related Words for gnarled gnarly, deformed, twisted, crooked, contorted, wrinkled, rough, bent, distorted, tortured, knurled, leathery, rugged, weather-beaten Examples from the Web for gnarled Contemporary Examples of gnarled

  • I was taken into one by Maurice, a gnarled old Vietnam vet in a wooly hat.

    Here’s a Reform Even the Koch Brothers and George Soros Can Agree On

    Tina Brown

    November 10, 2014

  • Hard-caught game gets something feral and gnarled—Côte-Rôtie or a leathery Hermitage.

    The Queen of the French Kitchen

    Katie Baker

    March 26, 2014

  • The knots were so plentiful that the thread stood up like a gnarled flagpole.

    ‘Are You Also With Fever?’

    Dr. Abraham Verghese

    February 11, 2009

  • The young who are not gnarled and knocked around by the old fights are tired of the overtones of special pleading.

    Will Secretary of State Be Enough for Hillary’s Army?

    Tina Brown

    November 18, 2008

  • Historical Examples of gnarled

  • He had limbs of great length, and muscles like the gnarled heads of a beech.

    The Shadow of a Crime

    Hall Caine

  • Gnarled cedars, hanging precariously, might hide pixies and elves.

    The White Invaders

    Raymond King Cummings

  • So that the more knotted and gnarled a log of mahogany is, the better.

    Forests of Maine

    Jacob S. Abbott

  • She got up out of the hay, and put out a gnarled brown hand for it.

    The Lowest Rung

    Mary Cholmondeley

  • Even from the path he saw extending from the heap an arm, a gnarled hand.

    Mountain Blood

    Joseph Hergesheimer

  • British Dictionary definitions for gnarled gnarled adjective

    1. having gnarls
    2. (esp of hands) rough, twisted, and weather-beaten in appearance
    3. perverse or ill-tempered

    gnarl 1 noun

    1. any knotty protuberance or swelling on a tree


    1. (tr) to knot or cause to knot

    Word Origin for gnarl C19: back formation from gnarled, probably variant of knurled; see knurl gnarl 2 gnar (nɑː) verb

    1. (intr) obsolete to growl or snarl

    Word Origin for gnarl C16: of imitative origin Word Origin and History for gnarled adj.

    the source of the group of words that includes gnarl (v.), gnarl (n.), gnarly is Shakespeare’s use of gnarled in 1603:

    Thy sharpe and sulpherous bolt Splits the vn-wedgable and gnarled Oke. [“Measure for Measure,” II.ii.116]

    OED and Barnhart call it a variant of knurled, from Middle English knar “knot in wood” (late 14c.), originally “a rock, a stone;” of uncertain origin. “(Gnarled) occurs in one passage of Shakes. (for which the sole authority is the folio of 1623), whence it came into general use in the nineteenth century” [OED].

    gnarl v.

    “contort, twist,” 1814, a back-formation from gnarled. As a noun from 1824. Earlier the verb was used in a sense of “to snarl” (1590s).

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