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[grim] /grɪm/
adjective, grimmer, grimmest.
stern and admitting of no appeasement or compromise:
grim determination; grim necessity.
of a sinister or ghastly character; repellent:
a grim joke.
having a harsh, surly, forbidding, or morbid air:
a grim man but a just one; a grim countenance.
fierce, savage, or cruel:
War is a grim business.
Origin of grim
before 900; Middle English, Old English; cognate with Old Saxon, Old High German grimm, Old Norse grimmr
Related forms
grimly, adverb
grimness, noun
1. harsh, unyielding. 2. frightful, horrible, dire, appalling, horrid, grisly, gruesome, hideous, dreadful. 3. severe, stern, hard. 4. ferocious, ruthless.
1. lenient. 2. attractive. 3. gentle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for grimmer
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • With grimmer face Peters moved thoughtfully across the room and touched a bell in the wall by the fireplace.

  • When I went out to walk about the rectory garden, grimmer touched his hat.

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug Joseph C. Lincoln
  • All this is an interlude between greater and grimmer things.

  • The besiegers were gathering; the world was watching, expectant of the grimmer struggle.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • The darker, grimmer side of the student life was wholly hidden from Betty.

  • There's grimmer, the cashier and chief clerk o' the savin's-bank.

    Sonnie-Boy's People James B. Connolly
British Dictionary definitions for grimmer


adjective grimmer, grimmest
stern; resolute: grim determination
harsh or formidable in manner or appearance
harshly ironic or sinister: grim laughter
cruel, severe, or ghastly: a grim accident
(archaic or poetic) fierce: a grim warrior
(informal) unpleasant; disagreeable
hold on like grim death, to hold very firmly or resolutely
Derived Forms
grimly, adverb
grimness, noun
Word Origin
Old English grimm; related to Old Norse grimmr, Old High German grimm savage, Greek khremizein to neigh
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for grimmer



Old English grimm "fierce, cruel, savage, dire, painful," from Proto-Germanic *grimmaz (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German, German grimm, Old Norse grimmr, Swedish grym "fierce, furious"), from PIE *ghrem- "angry," perhaps imitative of the sound of rumbling thunder (cf. Greek khremizein "to neigh," Old Church Slavonic vuzgrimeti "to thunder," Russian gremet' "thunder").

A weaker word now than once it was; sense of "dreary, gloomy" first recorded late 12c. It also had a verb form in Old English, grimman (class III strong verb; past tense gramm, p.p. grummen). Old English also had a noun, grima "goblin, specter," perhaps also a proper name or attribute-name of a god, hence its appearance as an element in place names.

Grim reaper as a figurative way to say "death" is attested by 1847 (the association of grim and death goes back at least to 17c.). A Middle English expression for "have recourse to harsh measures" was to wend the grim tooth (early 13c.).


"spectre, bogey, haunting spirit," 1620s, from grim (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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