1561, originally a noun, from M.Fr. crotesque,
from It. grottesco,
lit. "of a cave," from grotta
). Used first of paintings found on the walls of basements of Roman ruins (It. pittura grottesca
). Originally "fanciful, fantastic," sense became pejorative after mid-18c. Grotty,
slang shortening, had a brief vogue 1964 as part of Liverpool argot popularized by The Beatles in "A Hard Day's Night."