Definition of gnat in English:



  • 1A small two-winged fly that resembles a mosquito. Gnats include both biting and nonbiting forms, and they typically form large swarms.

    • ‘The skin on the side of his face burned suddenly and the brunette slapped a hand to his cheek, expecting it to come into contact with a mosquito or a gnat.’
    • ‘This summer you can enjoy the outdoors without fear of mosquitoes, black flies and gnats.’
    • ‘Surprisingly, the gnats departed and no mosquitoes replaced them.’
    • ‘Pull on the spider's leg to catapult him up, so he can chow down on flying bees, gnats and butterflies.’
    • ‘Even with the inside plants, the coffee shop never has to worry about flies or gnats.’
    • ‘The Diptera include files, mosquitoes, gnats, midges, and no-see-ums.’
    • ‘How many gnats and mosquitoes have you killed without a second thought?’
    • ‘The pantyhose cover is effective in keeping fruit flies and gnats from moving in and out of the column.’
    • ‘Apart from the hum of gnats and mosquitoes and the low rustle of the creek, the scene is silent.’
    • ‘He'll do 2,000 yards of swimming every morning; he'll rappel down any cliff he needs to; he will shake off any small-arms fire as if it were a swarm of gnats.’
    • ‘Now, release a huge swarm of gnats in front of the monitor and continue staring.’
    • ‘Simply fill its attractive sterling silver jewelry with a citrus-scented oil to naturally repel mosquitoes, gnats, bees and wasps.’
    • ‘Included among the invertebrates are moth flies, wood gnats, midges, punkies, mosquitoes, marsh beetles, and beelike or wasplike syrphid flies.’
    • ‘Light still shone through the small window, which they placed a somewhat thick blanket over in the summer to keep gnats and mosquitoes from entering.’
    • ‘The swamp itself was muddy, turbid, and infested with biting gnats and mosquitoes.’
    • ‘If you opt for the latter, though, keep a sharp eye out for airborne swarms of gnats.’
    • ‘The air over the high purple heather was dense with heavy black gnats, flying ants, and scary but sleepy long orange and black insects.’
    • ‘The swarms of gnats and mosquitoes were annoying, but augured well for our hopes of spotting tiny bug-eating birds.’
    • ‘Most people would probably mistake them for small flies, such as gnats or midges.’
    • ‘The usual hot summer features ferocious mosquitoes at sunset, gnats, biting nits, mayflies, moths and green flies, and spiders and their webs everywhere, harvesting the foregoing.’
    1. 1.1 A person or thing seen as tiny or insignificant, especially in comparison with something larger or more important.
      ‘I was only a gnat in the affair’
      • ‘Why Pagels happily swallows this camel while straining out the gnats of the creed is a mystery.’
      • ‘Some issues present all the appearances of being designed to separate the gnats from the gadflies, and this is such a one.’
      • ‘In fact, neither Cathy nor Frank express anything that might resemble an emotion until their bedroom door is locked and the neighbourhood of gossiping gnats is safely locked out of the hidden desperation of their unhappy marriage.’
      insignificant person, nobody, nonentity, non-person, insect, cipher, pygmy
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Old English gnætt, of Germanic origin; related to German Gnitze.