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[grit] /grɪt/
abrasive particles or granules, as of sand or other small, coarse impurities found in the air, food, water, etc.
firmness of character; indomitable spirit; pluck:
She has a reputation for grit and common sense.
a coarse-grained siliceous rock, usually with sharp, angular grains.
British, gravel.
sand or other fine grainy particles eaten by fowl to aid in digestion.
verb (used with object), gritted, gritting.
to cause to grind or grate together.
verb (used without object), gritted, gritting.
to make a scratchy or slightly grating sound, as of sand being walked on; grate.
grit one's teeth, to show tenseness, anger, or determination by or as if by clamping or grinding the teeth together.
Origin of grit
before 1000; Middle English gret, griet, grit, Old English grēot; cognate with German Griess, Old Norse grjōt pebble, boulder; see grits
Related forms
gritless, adjective
gritter, noun
2. resolution, fortitude, courage. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for grit
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In these places there is always a certain amount of dirt and grit.

    On the Seashore R. Cadwallader Smith
  • Wanted Mrs. Blake to wait and come on later; but talk about grit!

    Out of the Depths Robert Ames Bennet
  • The compensating gear is of the bevel type, half shrouded and so close together that sand and grit are kept out.

    Farm Engines and How to Run Them James H. Stephenson
  • Still they proved their grit by keeping on, as if determined to stick it out.

    Pathfinder Alan Douglas
  • Tudor-like, she had proved her grit and her pluck when opposing factions tried to wrest her crown from her.

    The Tangled Skein Emmuska Orczy, Baroness Orczy
British Dictionary definitions for grit


small hard particles of sand, earth, stone, etc
Also called gritstone. any coarse sandstone that can be used as a grindstone or millstone
the texture or grain of stone
indomitable courage, toughness, or resolution
(engineering) an arbitrary measure of the size of abrasive particles used in a grinding wheel or other abrasive process
verb grits, gritting, gritted
to clench or grind together (two objects, esp the teeth)
to cover (a surface, such as icy roads) with grit
Derived Forms
gritless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English grēot; related to Old Norse grjōt pebble, Old High German grioz; see great, groats, gruel


noun, adjective (Canadian)
an informal word for Liberal
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 grit

Old English greot "sand, dust, earth, gravel," from Proto-Germanic *greutan "tiny particles of crushed rock" (cf. Old Saxon griot, Old Frisian gret, Old Norse grjot "rock, stone," German Grieß "grit, sand"), from PIE *ghreu- "rub, grind" (cf. Lithuanian grudas "corn, kernel," Old Church Slavonic gruda "clod"). Sense of "pluck, spirit" first recorded American English, 1808.


"make a grating sound," 1762, probably from grit (n.). Related: Gritted; gritting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for grit



  1. Courage; fortitude and stamina (1825+)
  2. The roadpath beside a railroad track (1950s+ Railroad)
  3. (also grits)Food (1930s+ Black)
  4. A Southerner: He's a hotshot down here among the grits. A good Yankee guard would eat him alive (1960s+)
  5. (also Grit)Awhite person: It's a God's wonder some Grit didn't kill us (1960s+ Black)


To eat (1930s+ Black)

Related Terms

hit the dirt

[food senses at least partially fr hominy grits, although grit was British military slang for ''food'' in the 1930s; Southern dialect sense probably ironically fr Civil War use of the expression true Yankee grit by Northern soldiers and writers]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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