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Gnat, n. Etym: [AS. gnæt.]

1. (Zoöl.)

Defn: A blood-sucking dipterous fly, of the genus Culex, undergoing a metamorphosis in water. The females have a proboscis armed with needlelike organs for penetrating the skin of animals. These are wanting in the males. In America they are generally called mosquitoes. See Mosquito.

2. Any fly resembling a Culex in form or habits; esp., in America, a small biting fly of the genus Simulium and allies, as the buffalo gnat, the black fly, etc.
Gnat catcher (Zoöl.), one of several species of small American singing birds, of the genus Polioptila, allied to the kinglets.
-- Gnat flower, the bee flower.
-- Gnat hawk (Zoöl.), the European goatsucker; -- called also gnat owl.
-- Gnat snapper (Zoöl.), a bird that catches gnats.
-- Gnat strainer, a person ostentatiously punctilious about trifles. Cf. Matthew 23:24.

---excerpt from the Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Gnat - Only in Matthew 23:24, a small two-winged stinging fly of the genus Culex, which includes mosquitoes. Our Lord alludes here to the gnat in a proverbial expression probably in common use, "who strain out the gnat;" the words in the Authorized Version, "strain at a gnat," being a mere typographical error, which has been corrected in the Revised Version. The custom of filtering wine for this purpose was common among the Jews. It was founded on Leviticus 11:23. It is supposed that the "lice," Exodus 8:16 (marg. R.V., "sand-flies"), were a species of gnat.


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