1552, from obsolete adj. grate
"agreeable, thankful," from L. gratus
"pleasing" (see grace
). "A most unusual formation" [Weekley]. Hard to think of another case where English uses -ful
to make an adj. from an adj. Grateful Dead,
the San Francisco rock band, took its name, according to Jerry Garcia, from a dictionary entry he saw about the folk tale motif of a wanderer who gives his last penny to pay for a corpse's burial, then is magically aided by the spirit of the dead person. A different version of the concept is found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead.