a light, usually thin, cooked cereal made by boiling meal, especially oatmeal, in water or milk.

1275–1325; Middle English < Middle French, Old French, equivalent to gru- (< Germanic; see grout) + -el diminutive suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
gruel (ˈɡruːəl)
a drink or thin porridge, made by boiling meal, esp oatmeal, in water or milk
[C14: from Old French, of Germanic origin; see grout]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1199, from O.Fr. gruel, from Frank. *grut (cf. M.Du. grute "coarse meal, malt;" M.H.G. gruz "grain"); gruelling "exhausting, punishing," first recorded 1891, from late 18c. slang get one's gruel "receive one's punishment."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
He recalls the cup of thin gruel at mealtime, a soup so watered down that he
  could count the grains of rice.
Skip the rice gruel as it's pretty bland, but the other stuff is all great.
The other staple of their existence is a gruel made from the sago palm.
She was told she was working for national glory but received only watery gruel
  as recompense.
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