Word Origin & History
late 12c., "God's favor or help," from O.Fr. grace "pleasing quality, favor, good will, thanks," from L. gratia "pleasing quality, good will, gratitude," from gratus "pleasing, agreeable," from PIE base *gwer- "to praise, welcome" (cf. Skt. grnati "sings, praises, announces," Lith. giriu "to praise,
celebrate," Avestan gar- "to praise"). Sense of "virtue" is early 14c., that of "beauty of form or movement, pleasing quality" is mid-14c. In classical sense, "one of the three sister goddesses (L. Gratiæ, Gk. Kharites), bestowers of beauty and charm," it is first recorded in English 1579 in Spenser. The short prayer that is said before or after a meal (early 13c., until 16c. usually graces) is in the sense of "gratitude." Verb meaning "to show favor" (mid-15c.) led to that of "to lend or add grace to something" (1580s, e.g. grace us with your presence), which is the root of the musical sense in grace notes (1650s).