from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To snarl; growl.
  • n. A protruding knot on a tree.
  • transitive v. To make knotted; twist.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A knot in wood; a large or hard knot, or a protuberance with twisted grain, on a tree.
  • n. Something resembling a knot in wood, such as in stone or limbs.
  • n. The average value of the magnitude squared of the curl of a vector field over a continuous path that is tangent to the vector field at every point. In mathematical notation, gnarl is represented by the lowercase Greek letter ξ.
  • v. To knot or twist something.
  • v. To snarl or growl; to gnar.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. a knot in wood; a large or hard knot, or a protuberance with twisted grain, on a tree.
  • intransitive v. To growl; to snarl.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To give a rough ridging or milling to, as to the edge of a thumbscrew.
  • Same as gnar.
  • n. A knot; a knotty growth in wood; a rough irregular protuberance on a tree.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. make complaining remarks or noises under one's breath
  • n. something twisted and tight and swollen
  • v. twist into a state of deformity


Frequentative of gnar.
Back-formation from gnarled.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Back-formation from gnarled. (Wiktionary)
Onomatopoeia (Wiktionary)


  • The wiggy 60s gnarl emanating from the speakers does not sound incomplete, however.


  • Clarke: I don't think you saw all the gnarl that was there!

    Survivor: South Pacific Winner Sophie Clarke: "I'm Trying to Be a Little Sunnier"

  • Consider, for instance the field lines of some magnets moving around each other, as shown in this video by Daniel Piker, who has a great blog of computational gnarl called Space Symmetry Structure.

    Boing Boing

  • Beyond the town itself, across the railroad track, the uncles’ corn and cotton crops filled the sandy bottoms all the way to their arable edges; beyond the fields the neatly tended rows unraveled into the thick gnarl of woods through which the river snaked.

    Excerpt: The Blue Star by Tony Earley

  • Like I mentioned, the opening sequence is very airy, very simple, just a shot panning overhead of a winding road that seems to twist and gnarl around a mountainous path.

    This Week In Trailers: Mammoth, The White Ribbon, Love The Beast, Love, Starsuckers | /Film

  • When I see it, the lightness I feel is shoved aside and a gnarl of nerves wind in my stomach.

    The Fortunes of Indigo Skye

  • Rising from the soil, its trunk bears every gnarl and pit of its ancient age.

    Miró's Rich Harvest

  • During election season, it's also useful to understand how, exactly, the collaboration of the federal government, private developers and real-estate interests continue to subsidize housing for society's wealthiest without regard for environmental limitations, while neglecting existing public structures and spaces and saddling the taxpayer for the resulting gnarl of bills.

    Home Is Where The Cul-De-Sac Is

  • In a matter of weeks the trees starve to death and the splendid leaf canopy withers into a gnarl of barren branches as brittle as witch's hair.

    Crisis In The Cupboard

  • Though it took the next five minutes for me to get him out—Alice had clearly never heard of panic snaps, and he was tied to the cross in an absolute gnarl of ropes—I was finally able to support him as he lowered his arms, get him some water, and help him find his coat.

    The Best American Erotica 2006


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  • To make complaining remarks or noises under one's breath.

    (also twist/knot)

    February 23, 2007