You’ve heard it said, but do you know how to spell it?
This is another case of the English language being funky and you over-thinking your knowledge of the the nick of time, knots, gnats, and other words with spellings that sound like they should simply begin with the letter “n.”
Sometime after the first fifteenth-century usage of “gnash” your teeth—yes, that’s the correct spelling—the phrase became an idiom of its own. Not stopping too long over the fact that this word was derived from an alliteration of the common word of the time, gnasten—how fascinating is that?—you understand that when someone gnashes their teeth, no matter how you thought it was spelled, the person in question is angry, frustrated, potentially choleric, or otherwise incensed, inflamed, or infuriated.
It’s an action filled with tension. The spelling of it, however, should not be filled with tension.
Gnashing over the spelling of gnashing? I sure hope not. But if you are, I hope this settles it for you.
Happy writing, folks!
Join 650+ subscribers and sign-up for my writing and editing email newsletter for more tips like this.