worry a bit of debris

sisse nar

Senior Member
Hi, all.

This is from <A death in the family> by James Agee.

In the following part, is it possible to define "worry" as "(Of a dog or other carnivorous animal) tear at or pull about with the teeth"(OFD) even though this is about sparrows?

...a long line of buggies and automobiles, after a moment’s hesitancy, advanced a few feet, and now a man who had stood in the empty sidewalk across from the house walked westward and crossed the street in front of the children, putting on his hat as he reached the farther curb, and they heard the last of the streetcar, but now they heard the hard chipping of two sparrows,worrying a bit of debris in the street,...
  • Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    When a dog "worries" something he found on the ground it means he grasps it in his mouth and shakes it to and forth. This is "worry" in the verb form. So the sparrows are holding the debris in their beaks and shaking it back and forth.

    Farlex on-line dictionary defines "worry" ][verb] as:

    1. To feel uneasy or concerned about something; be troubled. See Synonyms at brood.
    2. To pull or tear at something with or as if with the teeth.
    3. To proceed doggedly in the face of difficulty or hardship; struggle

    It is definition #2 that applies here.
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