views updated May 21 2018


GNAT , tiny insect. Included among the plagues of Egypt is arov, identified by one tanna as "a swarm of gnats" and "hornets" and by others as "a mixture of animals" (Ex. R. 11:3). In the Septuagint arov is rendered by the Greek word for "flies." In Egypt there are many species of gnats or mosquitoes, in particular Culex and the Anopheles, a conveyor of malaria. Their eggs are laid in bodies of water and the gnat develops by stages – larval, pupal, imaginal. Despite the inconvenience caused by the gnat, the rabbis stated that it, too, is important in the complex of ecological relations between creatures (Shab. 77b). They also declared that even "if all mortals were to gather together to create one gnat," they would fail to do so (Sif. Deut. 32).


Tristram, Nat Hist, 327; J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 125.

[Jehuda Feliks]


views updated May 29 2018

gnat / nat/ • n. a small two-winged fly (Simuliidae, Ceratopogonidae, and other families). Gnats include both biting and nonbiting forms, and they typically form large swarms. ∎  a person or thing seen as tiny or insignificant, esp. in comparison with something larger or more important.


views updated May 14 2018

gnat Common name for several small flies, mainly of the family Culicidae, the female of which bites human beings. See also mosquito.


views updated May 17 2018

gnat OE. gnætt, corr. to LG. gnatte, G. dial. gnatze, rel. to MLG. gnitte, G. gnitze.