From Middle English gnat, from Old English gnætt (“gnat; midge; mosquito”), from Proto-Germanic *gnattaz, *gnattuz (“gnat”), from Proto-Indo-European *gʰneHdʰn-, *gʰneHd- (“to gnaw; scratch”), from Proto-Indo-European *gʰen- (“to gnaw; bite; scratch; grind”). Cognate with Low German Gnatte (“gnat”), dialectal Swedish gnatt (“mote; particle; atom”), German Gnatz (“scabs; rash; scabies; stinginess”). Related also gnit and gnaw.
gnat (plural gnats)
- Any small insect of the order Diptera, specifically within the suborder Nematocera.