One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A rough, knotty protuberance, especially on a tree.
lump, bump, protuberance, projection, protrusion, bulge, swelling, knot, node, nodule, growth, outgrowth, excrescence, carbuncle, tumourView synonyms
- ‘Chism's second installation, Heaven, Hell and the Garden, offered a glimpse of a fleshy gnarl of cloth through a trap door as you mounted a low platform to admire a tall painting of sturdy underbrush.’
- ‘And because of its knots and gnarls it's worth even less at the chip-mill than plantation wood.’
- ‘Lady Peacemaker was surprised to find herself looking into the eyes of a human face composed entirely from the bumps and gnarls of the tree's trunk.’
Early 19th century: back-formation from gnarled.
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