gnat [nat] ExamplesWord Origin See more synonyms for gnat on noun

  1. any of certain small flies, especially the biting gnats or punkies of the family Ceratopogonidae, the midges of the family Chironomidae, and the black flies of the family Simuliidae.
  2. British. mosquito.


  1. strain at a gnat and swallow a camel, to fuss about trifles while ignoring more serious matters.

Origin of gnat before 900; Middle English; Old English gnæt(t); cognate with German (dial.) Gnatze Related formsgnat·like, adjective Related Words for gnat tick, vermin, pest, mite, bee, butterfly, gnat, dragonfly, moth, grasshopper, spider, cockroach, termite, ant, mosquito, beetle, flea, aphid, ladybug, fly Examples from the Web for gnat Contemporary Examples of gnat

  • Some kind of fly, gnit, gnat, tick or flea of some kind…the desert kind.

    Marine First Lieutenant Nathan Krissoff’s Last Letters Home From Iraq

    Matt Pottinger

    May 26, 2013

  • Historical Examples of gnat

  • He walked round them the first time, but there was no sign of the gnat.

    Cossack Fairy Tales and Folk Tales


  • The charming creatures will neither strain at a camel nor swallow a gnat.

    Notes on Life and Letters

    Joseph Conrad

  • The Gnat lay in the roadstead off Rathmullan, beyond reach that night.


    Talbot Baines Reed

  • I would shelter there till daylight summoned me to my post of duty on the Gnat.


    Talbot Baines Reed

  • But this would be straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel.

    The Journal of Negro History, Volume 3, 1918


  • British Dictionary definitions for gnat gnat noun

    1. any of various small fragile biting dipterous insects of the suborder Nematocera, esp Culex pipiens (common gnat), which abounds near stagnant water

    Derived Formsgnatlike, adjectiveWord Origin for gnat Old English gnætt; related to Middle High German gnaz scurf, German dialect Gnitze gnat Word Origin and History for gnat n.

    Old English gnætt “gnat, midge, mosquito,” earlier gneat, used of various small, flying insects, from Proto-Germanic *gnattaz (cf. Low German gnatte, German Gnitze); perhaps literally “biting insect” and related to gnaw.

    The gnatte is a litil fflye, and hatte culex..he soukeþ blood and haþ in his mouþ a pipe, as hit were a pricke..And is a-countid a-mong volatiles..and greueþ slepinge men wiþ noyse & wiþ bytinge and wakeþ hem of here reste. [John of Trevisa, transl. of Bartholomew de Glanville’s “De proprietatibus rerum,” 1398] gnat in Medicine gnat [năt] n.

    1. Any of various small, biting, two-winged flies, such as a biting midge or black fly.

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