gnash vs. grind vs. grate

Thomas1

Senior Member
polszczyzna warszawska
What is the difference between the above verbs when collocating them with 'the teeth' please?

Is there any context in which you'd use one and not the others?

Thanks in advance,
Thomas
 
  • boonognog

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    I haven't heard "grate" used in reference to teeth, but it doesn't surprise me that someone might use it similarly to "gnash", as a metaphor for the subject's mental state of anguish. Usually in English you will hear "grate" in relation to nerves, rather than teeth -- Management in this company really grates my nerves!

    The expression "gnashing of teeth" is mostly used metaphorically, to indicate the subject's anxiety, anguish, etc.

    "Grind" is used in reference to teeth when the subject is clenching his jaw and rubbing his teeth across each other. It's a more literal, physical description.


    Another related term would be "grit" -- I could tell the way he was gritting his teeth that the student orchestra's playing really grated his nerves!
     

    NealMc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Hi
    They are pretty interchangable but....

    Gnash is maybe used more to signify greedy eating / biting
    eg "gnash down a load of grub" (grub being slang for food)

    Grind is often used with drug use or something you do in your sleep.
    eg "that was rough speed I was grinding for hours"
    eg "your grinding kept me awake all night"

    Grate signifies annoyance and is probably how I'd described the recorded works of James Blunt
    eg "if you haven't heard the teeth grating artistry of the Back to Bedlam creator in Poland yet - you are quite fortunate."

    Gnashing is the most biting related use.
    Grinding is the most physical use.
    Grating is the most thought/emotion/opinion related use.

    My opinion, this will probably be open to plenty of interpretation.

    Cheers
    Neal Mc
     

    Jhorer Brishti

    Senior Member
    United States/Bangladesh English/Bengali
    Whenever I hear or read the word "gnash" I invariably think of Baba Yaga. If you know who she is you'll immediately understand the image that should appear in your mind when faced with this word. Gnashing is an activity exclusive to teeth. Grinding is applying continuous force(think of a mortar and pestle) to break something down into a minute powdery size. Grinding one's teeth is usually done when the person feels anxiety or nervous. Grating with reference to teeth could probably be interchangeable. Returning to Gnashing this can also be likened to what a monster(like Baba Yaga) does with its teeth to instill fear. Gnashing looks very disgusting and crude while the other two do not necessarily have to be so.
     

    Chaska Ñawi

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Jhorer Brishti said:
    Whenever I hear or read the word "gnash" I invariably think of Baba Yaga. If you know who she is you'll immediately understand the image that should appear in your mind when faced with this word. Gnashing is an activity exclusive to teeth. Grinding is applying continuous force(think of a mortar and pestle) to break something down into a minute powdery size. Grinding one's teeth is usually done when the person feels anxiety or nervous. Grating with reference to teeth could probably be interchangeable. Returning to Gnashing this can also be likened to what a monster(like Baba Yaga) does with its teeth to instill fear. Gnashing looks very disgusting and crude while the other two do not necessarily have to be so.
    Fantastic description! I've never heard of anyone grating their teeth (in English), but the rest of this gives a wonderful image...I think you now have it in a nutshell.
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Grinding one's teeth is usually done when the person feels anxiety or nervous.

    True, but it also happens with tension resulting from irritation or annoyance. Tension is key - the jaw is tight.
     
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